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Baseball botches ballgame against South Dakota State

BY SETH ROBERTS | MARCH 31, 2011 7:20 AM

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One word was on the mind of every Iowa baseball player after a 10-5 loss to South Dakota State on Wednesday.

Unacceptable.

Iowa (9-13) shot itself in the foot with four errors in the game, including three in the second inning, and the miscues led to seven unearned runs. The Jackrabbits (9-9) took the freebies and turned them into their sixth-straight win.

The Hawkeyes started the game well, but things unraveled quickly when South Dakota State sent 10 batters to face sophomore starter Ben Bergman in the second frame. The Jackrabbits collected four hits and used three Iowa errors to pick up six runs, although only one was pegged to Bergman.

Even though he received no help from his defense, he was diplomatic when asked about the inning.

“That inning was just really tough,” the 20-year-old from Solon said. “A couple of the good pitches I threw got hit, and mistakes got hit, too.”

Bergman was pulled from his first career start after 65 pitches in 21⁄3 innings.

The rest of Iowa’s pitchers didn’t fare much better against the potent Jackrabbit lineup. South Dakota State finished with 16 hits to push its total for the two-game series to 29.

And while the pitching staff had the excuse of being severely depleted after Tuesday’s 14-inning marathon, several of Iowa’s defensive players said they knew they had to shoulder a lot of the blame for Wednesday’s loss.

“A lot of people are disappointed because this was a team we felt we could have — and should have — beaten,” third baseman Andrew Ewing said. “[We had] a late, long game [Tuesday] night, but everyone had to play in it, so I’m not making excuses.”

Ewing committed two of the team’s three second-inning errors. The first was a throwing error that allowed designated hitter Zach Rhodes to advance to third base and score on the following play. The junior from Iowa City later fumbled a ground ball with two outs, and two runs scored.

Iowa also committed four errors in Tuesday’s series-opener, and head coach Jack Dahm said he noticed the Hawks botched their footwork on several plays.

The eighth-year coach also said his team’s shoddy defense wasn’t helped by the unusually hard playing surface at Banks Field. Cold weather has kept Iowa’s groundskeepers from watering the grass thus far, and the hard field might have made ground balls skip across the infield differently.

Still, Dahm said, the Hawkeyes must be able to overcome tricky field conditions with winnable games on the line. And with Big Ten play looming this weekend, Iowa has to move quickly to find defensive answers.

“We need to clean up our defense for sure,” the coach said. “We’re a very good defensive team when we’re focused and we’re playing aggressively. When we’re back on our heels, we’re not very good.”


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