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Baseball faces Hoosiers on the road

BY JORDAN GARRETSON | APRIL 16, 2010 7:30 AM

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Jack Dahm doesn’t always show it, but the excitement is palpable in his voice.

When he talks about this year’s Iowa baseball team, listeners can sense it. The Hawkeyes have potential.

But the seventh-year head coach is experienced enough to know the season is long and arduous. He prefers to approach practices and games one day at a time.

Iowa (13-16, 3-3) has its next opportunity to build on its potential when the team rolls into Bloomington, Ind., today to begin a three-game set with Indiana (16-15, 2-4). Today’s opener is slated to begin at 2:05 p.m. The teams will meet again at 12:05 p.m. on both Saturday and April 18.

The Hawkeyes enter the Hoosier State having won nine of their last 13 games, and they are playing arguably their best baseball of the season.

“I like where we’re at right now,” Dahm said. “We just have to keep getting better. I keep saying that, but it’s a grind.”

This Indiana squad appears to be a notch down from last year’s Big Ten Tournament champion team, but Dahm knows life on the road in conference is difficult, regardless of the opposition.

Two seasons of Big Ten action have taught lead-off hitter Kurtis Muller the same lesson.

“It’s all about our mentality going into [the series],” he said. “If we think they’re just going to lay over and give us some wins, it’s going to be a long weekend. But if we go in there and pitch aggressively, hit aggressively, and play defense, we should be in good position at the end of the weekend.”

Factor in the Hoosiers’ Sembower Field, and the challenge for a visiting team is even more daunting.
The ballpark is very small and a very tough place to play, Dahm said, particularly when the wind is blowing out because of Indiana’s offensive prowess. The team’s top two hitters, Alex Dickerson and Jerrud Sabourin, have combined for 20 home runs and 79 RBIs this season.

The Hoosiers’ offensive fire power may be no match for the Hawkeyes during early innings. Iowa has scored a combined nine first inning-runs in its last three games.

But big first-innings aren’t enough. Dahm said he wants his team to learn to tack on runs after snatching an early lead.

The Hawkeyes jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead after one inning of play against Wisconsin-Milwaukee on April 13, but failed to plate additional runs until the game’s eighth inning. Wisconsin-Milwaukee tied the game after a three-run sixth.

Iowa ultimately won, 9-3, but its middle-inning slump stamped starting pitcher Zach Robertson with a no-decision, despite five shutout innings.

The late 3-3 dead heap also cost Dahm a chance to throw some of his younger pitchers in relief duty.

Players such as Ryan Durant know similar performances won’t account for many wins in the conference.

“In Big Ten play, you just want to take it to everybody,” the senior outfielder said. “You can’t let up. You really don’t care what the score is. You want to keep tacking on runs. It’s really no mercy.”


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