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Iowa Baseball continues to struggle to bat with runners on base

BY TOMMY REINKING | APRIL 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa baseball team hasn’t had very much trouble getting runners on base this season. The team was hitting .269 as a team heading into the game against Kansas Tuesday night.

The problem for the Hawkeyes has been the next step: driving in the runners. The team sits in second-to-last in runs scored in the Big Ten with 128 in 27 games.

They’ve left 246 runners stranded.

“Obviously, we could be doing better,” sophomore left fielder Taylor Kaufman said. “It’s something we’ve preached as a team. For us to be successful we’re going to have to be the team that does the classic get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in. Lately, our approach has been good, we just haven’t been executing.”

The Black and Gold have left 47 runners on base in their last four games. Against Nebraska on April 5, Iowa stranded 12 runners — including leaving the bases loaded twice. The story was almost the same in game two of the series, when the squad stranded 13 runners and again left the bases loaded twice.

Both games resulted in losses. In the finale, Iowa left 13 runners on base and left the bases juiced once and two runners on base four times. Overall, Iowa left runners on base in 20 of their 26 innings played in the series.

Of the 21 innings in which Iowa had at least one runner reach base, runners only scored in nine of them.

“You’re just looking to put a ball in play when you’ve got guys out there,” junior first baseman Trevor Kenyon said. “Sometimes, you’re going to strand a couple guys out there, but you just don’t want to go down swinging. It’s just baseball.”

The struggles continued for Iowa on Tuesday night against Kansas. The team stranded nine runners and plated just 3 runs.

Kenyon and Kaufman, being the No. 4 and 5 hitters in the lineup, are often tasked with driving runners home. In Kenyon’s first two plate appearances against Kansas with runners on base, he recorded a single and a walk. But in his next two at-bats, one of which had two runners on base, Kenyon struck out.

“I didn’t come out and do what I’ve been doing in terms of getting runners in,” the Davenport native said. “You’re not always going to get in all the runs that you want, but as long as you put a ball in play, the runners will come in.”

One of the qualities head coach Jack Dahm tries to instill on his players is treating every at-bat as if the bases are empty but still knowing the situation.

“It’s something coach has told us recently,” Kaufman said. “He reminds us that there shouldn’t be a different mindset. You should want to be the guy up to bat with guys in scoring position, and you should treat every at-bat like that.

Dahm feels confident the team is getting better with runners every game. The middle of the lineup in particular has been more consistent as the players are settling into their roles.

“We’re getting better,” Dahm said. “We’ve been a little bit anxious, but we’re definitely getting better in that area.”


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