Iowa baseball takes to Banks Field more focused for the last time

BY JALYN SOUCHEK | MAY 10, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa baseball team has had its struggles this season, and the opportunity to compete in the Big Ten Tournament continues to slip away. Now, as the Hawkeyes gear up for their final home series against Michigan State, the Hawkeyes have to find any way they can to improve.

The first game of the series will start at 6:05 p.m. today at Banks Field.

Iowa head coach Jack Dahm said the lack of wins can be contributed to a lack of focus. With its last chance to compete at home and the school year coming to a close, it’s important that the team comes ready to play.

“We need to continue to get better,” Dahm said. “We’ve made some progress, but I want us to play hard and go out there and compete better with the bat, too … It’s tough to fall behind.”

But catcher Keith Brand said the mentality this weekend won’t be any differently, regardless of the University of Iowa’s finals week.

“Do the studying off the field, and when you come to the baseball field, it’s all business,” he said. “School is separate from baseball. They need to focus on their studies, obviously, but once they get to the baseball field, it’s all ball from there.”

The squad has come up with few in-conference victories, now 5-13 (17-26 overall). That puts the Black and Gold in ninth place — three spots out of Big Ten Tournament contention, with just six games left in the season.

The Spartans enter the weekend in fifth place, 9-6 in the conference (28-14 overall) with a .287 team hitting average. Iowa is hitting.265.

Sophomore Anthony Torres said he expects the team will be more focused, as opposed to recent games, and the practices prior to the series were especially important.

“We just need to grind out in practice and really mentally prepare for [the weekend],” Torres said.
Iowa is coming off a mid-week 6-5 loss to Nebraska-Omaha on Tuesday, meaning the Mavericks won the season series in the teams’ their fifth meeting this season.

For the seniors, the Michigan State series will be their last opportunity to play at home — another reason Dahm expects the team to play sharper.

“It’s special for those seniors. They want to go out, and win a series, and finish on Duane Banks Field the right way,” he said. “You’re a Division-I athlete, you’re playing in the Big Ten here at Duane Banks Field. The weather is finally good. That should be enough reason to be focused.”

Dahm also said he expects a boost from the younger portion of the squad.

“For the younger guys, they need to lay it on the line for the seniors,” he said.

This weekend, the Hawkeyes continue to work toward the goal they’ve yet to accomplish this season, to win a series.

“Win a series. That’s the goal every weekend,” Brand said. “Michigan State is a pretty good team. Just looking forward to a challenge, and hopefully, we can come out on top this weekend.”

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