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Iowa baseball working with youthful lineup

BY TOMMY REINKING | APRIL 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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The lineup that takes the field for the Iowa Hawkeyes baseball team each game is not an experienced one.

The oldest player in the lineup against the Western Illinois Leathernecks, Trevor Kenyon, was born in October 1991.

The lineup head coach Jack Dahm sent out Tuesday night had zero seniors and only two juniors.

Five of the starting nine were sophomores, and two were freshmen. At most, Iowa has had one senior in the lineup in catcher Dan Sheppard.

“I was actually really fortunate [when I was an underclassmen],” the Downers Grove, Ill., native said. “We had a lot of older guys who had a lot of experience, were good leaders, and showed us the way. There are a lot of young guys now, but they’re all stepping up and doing their job.”

The young Hawks have been inconsistent at times this season on offense, but they appear to be on the rise. In a series against Northwestern March 22-23, underclassmen hit for a .197 clip. The team scored only 4 runs in three games.

The underclassmen raised their average a week later in the series against Indiana as a team to .232 and scored 15 runs in three losses.

Then, Tuesday night against Western Illinois, the team seemed to put it together. The freshmen and sophomores hit .310 in a 10-6 win.

With the lack of upperclassmen in the infield, freshman Nick Roscetti says he looks up to the two sophomores with whom he shares the infield when he plays.

“Seniors are a big part, but Jake Yacinich and Jake Mangler are really big leaders to me, because they’re in the infield,” Roscetti said. “I just look up to them and learn from what they do.”

The younger pitchers haven’t been faring as well as their upperclassman teammates. Seniors and juniors have a combined ERA of 2.69 in 90.1 innings pitched, and sophomores and freshmen have a combined ERA of 5.00 in 95.1 innings pitched.

Dahm said the young pitchers are making progress as the season goes along, though. He pointed to the performances of two freshman pitchers — Josh Martsching and Matthews — against the Leathernecks on Tuesday.

“Josh has done a really good job all year long,” the ten-year coach said. “Calvin has kind of had the bugaboo of us not playing very good defense behind him, but we did a little better today, and he made some big pitches. It was good to see the progress that those two guys have made.”

Dahm said he doesn’t try to look at the players on the team in terms of age. He said that players such as sophomores Kris Goodman, Nick Day, Yacinich, and Eric Toole played a lot of games as freshmen. Because of this, Dahm said, they’ve been able to step in to a leadership role often reserved for seniors.

“We have great leadership all the way through,” Roscetti said. “Even from freshmen all the way to seniors. I think we’re a very solid team. There’s a lot of experience which makes us better.”


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