Baseball's subs shine in otherwise disappointing night

BY SETH ROBERTS | APRIL 13, 2011 7:20 AM

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Jack Dahm didn’t mince words after Tuesday’s blowout loss to Kansas: His team, especially the starters, played badly.

But if there’s an upside to the 12-5 final score, it’s that the Hawkeyes’ substitutes were superb.

Dahm pulled four starters after the fifth inning, both to rest them for the weekend and because they had combined to go 0-for-8 at the plate with two errors in the field.

Freshman Kyle Haen replaced center fielder Trevor Willis and scored twice. Little-used junior Kasey Carling, in for second baseman Mike McQuillan, was 2-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored.

Sean Flanagan entered the game for designated hitter Tyson Blaser and ripped a two-RBI double in the eighth.

Redshirt sophomore Patrick Harshman overshadowed them all, though. The Centerville, Iowa, native, who has primarily been used as a pinch-runner, entered the game with no official at-bats on the year, having walked on March 18 against Notre Dame in his only plate appearance of the season.

He took another free pass in his first at-bat, but slapped an RBI double into right-center field his second time up for the first hit of his Iowa career.

“It felt really good,” Harshman said. “[I was] just trying to see as many pitches as I could … The circumstances were unfortunate — I would have liked for us to maybe be on the other end of [the score] — but it’s always good to get in there and compete.”

Harshman wasn’t the only Hawkeye to post his first numbers of the season; fellow redshirt sophomore Patrick Brennan climbed the pitchers’ mound in the seventh inning for only the second appearance of his Iowa tenure.

The 6-3 lefthanderwasn’t especially effective; he walked the bases loaded and allowed all three batters to score. He admitted he was working too quickly and left a fat pitch over the plate for Kansas’ Jordan Dreiling to crush, but Dahm said he wasn’t entirely displeased with the Massachusetts native.

“He’s a hard-working kid,” the eighth-year coach said. “We want to get him opportunities … but you can’t get everybody in. He’s a little further down in our pitching rotation, [but I’m] very glad he got an opportunity, because he deserves it.”

Brennan was pressed into action because of an unusually depleted bullpen, and said it’s been difficult being one of the lowest men on the Hawkeye totem pole — especially after he was helped lead his high-school team to a conference championship in 2007.

“It’s been a challenge,” he said. “Things change when you get to college — roles change, your [pitches] change — but you have to be positive and work through it all. I felt I did some good things and will be able to help down the road.”

And while both Brennan and Harshman appeared to relish their rare playing time, neither player seemed too concerned about when their next appearance might take place.

“Hopefully, through what I did tonight, there will be more opportunities — but at the same time, I have full faith our coaches are going to put in who they believe give us the best chance to win,” Harshman said. “I approach the field the same way, whether it’s game or practice … As long as we have outs left, we can keep trying to get better.”

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