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Iowa baseball looks for second half rebound

BY TOMMY REINKING | APRIL 09, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa baseball team has played 26 of a scheduled 51 games in the regular season so far. With an 11-15 overall record, 2-7 in the Big Ten, Iowa’s head coach has made it clear his team is not where he wants it to be.

The Hawkeyes aren’t doing particularly better or worse than in seasons past. In 2012, the squad went 12-14 during its first 26 games. From 2009 to 2011, Iowa went 11-15 in the first half, and in 2008 the team went 8-18. Only in 2010 did the Hawkeyes end the season with a record above .500.

“I thought we’d be in a lot better shape right now,” head coach Jack Dahm said. “We played pretty good baseball early on, but then you look, and we had a tough series at Northwestern, then we hit two very hot teams. Indiana has been the hottest team in the country, and Nebraska has been playing tremendous as of late.”

Iowa has had its own moments of greatness in both pitching and hitting, but getting the team to do both at the same time is a puzzle the team has been unable to solve.

Against Northwestern on March 22-23, the pitching staff allowed only 8 runs in three games, but the offense could only plate 4 runs in the entire series. Indiana then plowed through Iowa from March 30-31 to extend what was then the longest winning streak in the nation to 15 games.

The offense came alive in the three-game series against Nebraska from April 5 through Sunday; Iowa’s bats clubbed 38 hits and scored 19 runs in three games, but this time, the pitching staff failed to come through. Iowa’s hurlers surrendered 43 hits and 29 runs in the three games.

“We just need to be more consistent,” senior starting pitcher Andrew Hanse said. “We either do one thing better than the other, and we have to be more consistent.”

Among the overall inconsistency, however, the Black and Gold have benefitted from great individual performances both on the mound and at the plate.

The team has four players batting more than .300, including junior first baseman Trevor Kenyon, who leads the team with a .364 average. Of the eight pitchers who have thrown for at least 13 innings, four have ERAs at or below 4.03. Senior Ricky Sandquist leads the team with an impressive ERA of 1.73.

“I’d have to say one of our biggest strengths right now is Ricky Sandquist,” Kenyon said. “He comes in in big spots and closes the door. [Eric] Toole’s been getting hits. That’s a big part to get on base and let guys like [Kris] Goodman and us other guys down the order get him in. Those guys have been doing their jobs, and I tip my hat to them.”

Iowa still has a lot of time to turn the season around, but it needs to start soon. The Hawks begin the second half of their season today at home against Kansas at Banks Field. The Jayhawks sport an 18-12 record.

“It’s been tough the last two weekends playing the top two teams in the conference,” Dahm said. “Hopefully, we can free ourselves up a little bit and start to play like we did at the beginning of the season and even better.”


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