Iowa baseball thrashes Coe

BY SETH ROBERTS | APRIL 07, 2011 7:20 AM

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Mike McQuillan swings a baseball bat very well, but he has a weakness: slow pitching.

With the entire Coe College pitching staff throwing in the low 80s on Wednesday, McQuillan could have been in for a long night at the plate.

Instead of trying to overcompensate, though, the Evergreen Park, Ill., native took a patient approach and turned three of his four at-bats into walks.

“I had to make an adjustment — I had to get up in the box and stuff like that,” McQuillan said. “They just weren’t really throwing strikes, and we took what they gave us.”

The second baseman was one of five Hawkeyes to earn a base-on-balls in Iowa’s 14-1 win over Coe. The Black and Gold’s plate discipline forced four Kohawk pitchers to combine for 177 pitches.

Starter Josh Gordon tallied 54 of those in two innings of work, and reliever Rob Voges stretched his arm with 78 throws in 31⁄3 innings.

It wasn’t just that the Kohawks were missing their spots, either. McQuillan saw six pitches on each of his three walks, compared with only four when he struck out looking in the fourth inning.

Even the Hawkeyes whose final numbers were not impressive were forcing Coe to hit the strike zone: Shortstop Kurt Lee was 0-for-4 with a strikeout, but the senior saw 21 pitches.

“We always want to be a patient team and get our pitch to hit,” head coach Jack Dahm said. “Our guys just did a good job of laying off pitches … We struck out a couple times, but for the most part we put the ball in play.”

That mentality was also evident in Iowa’s last game, a 19-7 drubbing of Michigan State on Sunday. Spartan pitchers used 164 pitches, including starter David Garner’s 83 in 41⁄3 innings, and the Hawkeyes worked five walks.

Senior utilityman Zach McCool, who drew free passes in both games, said the rate at which the team is earning walks isn’t a coincidence.

“We started talking a lot more patience at the plate,” he said. “When you’re aggressive, you’re a lot more jumpy, and you don’t take your best swing at the ball. When you’re patient, that’s going to make you a better hitter.”

Not giving in to bad pitches allowed McCool and the rest of the Hawkeyes to wait for pitches they felt they could handle. Iowa slugged 17 hits against Michigan State and 15 against Coe.

The most visible beneficiary of a patient approach on Wednesday was outfielder Phil Keppler. With two men on in the sixth inning, the junior took two balls from Voges to start the at-bat. The freshman right-hander was forced to come back with a fat fastball, and Keppler planted the ball over the right-field fence.

The home run was part of one of eight different innings in the past two games in which the Hawkeyes have scored three or more runs, and Dahm said everything boils down to being patient at the plate.

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