Iowa baseball finds reasons to keep playing

BY TOMMY REINKING | MAY 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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The Iowa baseball team can’t make it to the Big Ten tournament. It was eliminated after a loss to Michigan State on Sunday.

But the squad still has one series left against Purdue from today through Saturday. Despite having nothing left in the season but these three games, the Hawkeyes players say they still have plenty left to play for.

“It’s our last weekend, and we know we’re not going to the tournament,” head coach Jack Dahm said. “The guys are going to be in finals. We have a lot of excuses not to play well. We have to find a reason to get excited to play.”

The Hawkeyes are perched in ninth place out of 11 teams in the Big Ten standings with a conference record of 7-14, 19-27 overall. Only the top six teams advance to the Big Ten Tournament, and Iowa is five games back of Michigan with three games left.

Iowa’s opponent this weekend, the Boilermakers, are one of only two teams with a worse conference record than Iowa. Only a game separates the two teams, so Iowa could still drop in the standings. However, Dahm said the team would like to pass the team ahead of them and move into eighth in the Big Ten.

“We’re going to try to move up in the standings,” head coach Jack Dahm said. “Lets’ try to pass Northwestern. We’ve got to find something to sink our teeth into. Let’s go out there and have some fun.”

Another goal for the Hawkeyes late in the season has been to send the six seniors on the squad out on top. The team got its end of the season tour off to a good start with its first series win of the season against Michigan State last weekend.

Both senior pitchers Matt Dermody and Ricky Sandquist said winning that series was their highlight for the season and that they hope to keep the momentum rolling against Purdue.

“Just going out on senior weekend and winning a series was really neat,” Sandquist said. “That was probably my favorite memory from this season. If we can play loose, put all three [parts of the game] together, and have fun like we did [last weekend], we’ll win another series.”

Infielder Jake Yacinich said the team was finally able to put everything together against Michigan State. He also said the biggest difference maker in that series was when they were playing for.

“We played for each other,” the sophomore said. “We played for the seniors. [This] weekend will be their last go-round for some of them. You want do it for the guy next to you, and you want to do it for your teammate. That’s the biggest thing.”

Dermody will take to the mound for the final time as a Hawkeye today. Senior catchers Keith Brand and Dan Sheppard will also likely take their final at-bats in the black and gold uniforms in the series.

Sandquist said it all comes down to handing off the torch from the senior class to the younger players. With only one weekend left, he said the seniors will lead the way just as they have all season.

“We lead the team,” he said. “For the younger guys see us go out there, compete, and lay it on the line, then they follow us.”

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