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Hawkeye baseball pitchers switching roles

BY TOMMY REINKING | MARCH 15, 2013 5:00 AM

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The top two pitchers for the Iowa baseball team, Sasha Kuebel and Matt Dermody, are having an identity crisis of sorts early in the season. When comparing statistics from last year, it appears as if the two pitchers have changed places.

Kuebel had an incredible freshman campaign in 2012; he went 6-0 with a 2.67 ERA and was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman Team and second team All-Big Ten. Through four games this season, though, the St. Louis native is just 1-3 with a 3.60 ERA.

Last season, Dermody had one of his worst as a Hawkeye. He went 1-7 in 13 starts with a 4.50 ERA. This year, however, he sports a 3-0 record with a 2.77 ERA.

“I’m happy with my performance, but I’m also happy with the team’s performance,” Dermody said. “When I pitch, they’ve been able to put runs up behind me and make plays behind me. There have been numerous times where if they don’t make a play behind me, I’d have a completely different set of stats.”

Looking at the number of runs the Hawks have scored for each pitcher does show a favorable trend for one pitcher and a not so enjoyable one for the other. In the four games that Kuebel has started, the Black and Gold have pushed 14 runs across the plate. Iowa’s 9-2 victory over Maine was the only game which Kuebel has pitched that the Hawkeyes have scored more than three runs.

Dermody, on the other hand, has received ample run support from his supporting cast — 32 runs scored in four games.

Another factor leading to Kuebel’s lower winning percentage is being the team’s ace for the first time in his college career.

“The difference for Sasha is that he’s going up against everyone else’s No. 1 pitcher now,” head coach Jack Dahm said. “That’s the tough part about being a Friday starter. Every outing he’s had, he’s thrown well enough to win. You just have to have a different mentality when you’re a Friday starter. I think that’s been a valuable lesson for him.”

Dermody has benefited from a change in his mindset in his senior season. According to interim pitching coach Jim Brownlee, Dermody is less focused on things that he can’t control, such as being drafted after graduating or the plays made behind him, and instead on the pitches he makes in every at-bat.

“The thing that I see a big difference in him is [in the past] during the course of a game, he would have an inning where he’d just lose it,” Brownlee said. “And now he’s totally confident. He’s on a mission. In the game last Saturday when he was so dominant, he threw 24 out of 32 first-pitch fastballs for strikes. That’s a winner.”

Kuebel and Dermody were both winners in last weekend’s action in the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Fla. The duo will try to keep the wins coming in a three-game series against Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday and March 17-18. The games were originally scheduled to be played at Banks Field, but they were moved to Wichita, Kan.

Even if Kuebel does keep the wins coming for the Hawkeyes, he said, it won’t be enough.

“There’s always room for improvement, no matter how well you’re doing,” he said. “I always try to keep that mentality.”


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