Iowa baseball aims to rebound from midweek loss tonight against Michigan

BY JALYN SOUCHEK | MAY 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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As the Iowa baseball team nears the end of its season, the team will try to turn things around starting tonight.

The Hawkeyes will be in Ann Arbor, Mich., this weekend to compete against the Wolverines in a three-game series. The first pitch is set for 5:05 p.m. today.

Iowa enters the weekend after a disappointing 10-3 loss to Wisconsin-Milwaukee on April 30. The poor outing was blamed on a lack of energy, Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm said. He said this wouldn’t be the case this weekend against the Maize and Blue.

They key to a positive turnaround, Dahm said, is simply more effort.

“We can control our effort, and our attitudes, and our energy level. You’re wearing the Iowa uniform — you can control that, and that has to be much better this weekend,” he said. “We’re going to work on playing hard and playing the game the right way, having energy in practice, during the game for guys in the dugout, for guys on the field.”

Iowa has not fared well in Big Ten competition this season. The Hawks dropped to 11th in the standings with a 4-11 record, in front of only Penn State.

Coming out victorious this weekend is essential if Iowa wants any hope of clinching a Big Ten Tournament berth. Michigan (22-20 overall, 8-7 Big Ten) is currently sitting in the middle of the pack, tied with Illinois for the sixth spot. The top six teams earn a trip to Minneapolis come May 22 to compete in the tournament.

“We need more than one win,” Dahm said. “But all we can do is worry about Friday. You can’t win two until you win one. Michigan has been struggling a little bit themselves, but you’re on the road. If we get ourselves ready to play, we have a very good chance against Michigan, but if we show up like we did [April 30], we don’t stand a chance.”

This weekend marks the first of nine remaining opportunities for Iowa to better its Big Ten record. The Hawkeyes are scheduled for two three-game sets against Michigan State and Purdue, respectively, after this weekend’s series with Michigan.

Even if it manages to scrape by with nine-consecutive Big Ten wins, Iowa’s chances are slim. It would end the regular season with a .542 winning percentage and would have to rely on other teams to start losing.

Michigan is 9-5 at home and has won its last seven games at the Wilpon Baseball and Softball Complex. The winning streak isn’t the only thing that will be tough for the Hawkeyes — they’ll face a talented trio of southpaw pitchers.

Wolverine pitchers Trent Szkutnik, Evan Hill, and Logan McAnallen — likely the three starters against Iowa this weekend — are part of a rotation that boasts an average ERA of 2.84, second-best in the conference.

Freshman Blake Hickman said the answer to rebounding lies in the practices that led up to Michigan and that this weekend isn’t taken lightly.

“It’s very important,” Hickman said. “Losing is never fun. We have to finish off strong.”
Hickman’s words are echoed by teammate Eric Toole.

“This weekend is important because we’re fighting for the Big Ten Tournament,” Toole said. “Every win counts at this point. We dug ourselves a hole. We’re going to go out there and try to win the series. We have to beat Michigan, which is a good team. I know they’re sitting in the middle of the pack.”

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