Baseball wins weekend series over Western Illinois

BY MATT COZZI | MARCH 28, 2011 7:20 AM

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Despite a setback in the first game of a three-game set against Western Illinois, the Iowa baseball team (9-11) won the next two contests to take the series.

The Hawkeyes didn’t win decisively with their offense, but pitching and defense prevailed to go 2-1 on the weekend against their Summit League-foe.

Game one: Western Illinois 4, Iowa 2

Sporting a heavy black jacket over his uniform, Jarred Hippen stood outside the Iowa dugout following a loss to Western Illinois on March 25. His hands were in his pockets, controlling his emotions after the defeat.

The left-handed pitcher just suffered his second loss of the season after exiting in the sixth inning, putting his record below .500 (1-2). Not exactly what was expected from the preseason Big Ten Pitcher of the Year.

Despite the weather — the temperature at Duane Banks Field never got above 35 degrees, and there was a stiff wind blowing in from right field during both home games — Hippen made no excuses.

“My command wasn’t that great,” he said. “I think that’s why I got hit around, because I wasn’t down in the zone like I usually am. I went deep into a lot of counts [against Western Illinois], and that’s not the type of pitcher I am. I need to be getting outs in the first three pitches.

“I was probably 3-1, 3-2 to a lot of guys today, and that can’t happen.”

Iowa mustered just four hits in the game one loss against the Leathernecks, 4-2. The three-game series began in Iowa City for the first two games on March 25-26, with the Hawkeyes traveling to Macomb, Ill., for game three on Sunday.

The middle infield tandem of Mike McQuillan and Kurt Lee accounted for all of Iowa’s hits; each went 2-for-4.

Game Two: Iowa 5, Western Illinois 4

After a disappointing effort the previous night, Iowa handled the uncomfortable conditions and went on to defeat Western Illinois the following afternoon, 5-4.

Led by pitcher Nick Brown, the Hawkeyes won their first home game of the season.

“I felt like I had my fastball in command, but my slider got knocked down by the wind a little bit,” said Brown, who went seven innings for his third win. “You need to really attack [hitters], especially when the wind is blowing in. The fly balls aren’t going anywhere in this weather.”

Although Iowa was out-hit by its opponent, head coach Jack Dahm’s squad was able to gets its offense going in the seventh inning.

The Hawkeyes were able to manufacture three runs in the seventh frame, when nine batters came up to the plate and six reached base.

Late in the inning, with runners on second and third and two outs, McQuillan hit a line shot into center field to drive in both. The Evergreen Park, Ill., native went 1-for-4 with three runs batted in.

“It’s huge to be able to put up runs with two outs like that,” McQuillan said. “It builds momentum and takes the life out of the other team.”

Game Three: Iowa 6, Western Illinois 2

Sophomore pitcher Matt Dermody won his first game of the season on Sunday, allowing just two runs and striking out six in seven innings.

Shortstop Lee finished a successful weekend at the plate, going 2-for-4 with two runs batted in. Lee batted .455 for the series.

Tyson Blaser and Zach McCool each drove in a runner in the first inning.

“I thought we played a solid baseball game today,” Dahm said. “We can feel good about the way we played. Matt Dermody gave us a nice solid outing. He pounded the zone and pitched with pace. I liked the flow of the game and how we played behind him.”

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