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K-State sweep serves as wake-up call

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | MARCH 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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Last weekend, the Iowa baseball team went into a three-game series against Kansas State sitting comfortably at 9-1, its best start in more than 70 years. 

It wasn’t enough. The Black and Gold dropped three straight to the Wildcats, bringing their season start to a still respectable 9-4 record. 

And while the team still has nearly three-quarters of the season left, the losses to Kansas State left an impression on the Hawks. Their best competition to date, Iowa was reminded that, hot starts aside, the competition only gets better from here on out. 

“It was definitely a wake-up call,” sophomore pitcher Tyler Peyton said. “We hadn’t played that type of competition yet, but now that it’s done, I think we kind of got the message. We know where we sit now and what we need to improve on.”

Up until their bout with the Wildcats on March 7, the Hawkeyes had been white-hot, riding a seven-game winning streak throughout February and into the first week of March.

Up 7-2 after the top of the sixth in the final game, the Hawks gave up 10 runs over the last three innings and eventually lost the game, 12-8. It was an uncharacteristic breakdown by head coach Rick Heller’s squad.

“On Sunday, the real disappointing thing was that it was the first real bad day we had on the mound,” Heller said. “It was unfortunate because we came in really dialed-in at the plate, but we didn’t score enough runs.

“We had something like 16 hits, so to only score 8 runs off of that is pretty disappointing.”

Still, Heller knows that Kansas State presented the biggest challenge to date for his team.  Despite the losses, he feels that the Hawkeyes handled themselves well against stiff competition.

“We played an extremely good team that played really well,” Heller said. “We didn’t play poorly, we just got beat.”

The Hawks knew that their opponent would be the closest thing they saw to Big Ten play in the nonconference season and approached the game as if it were a dry run for conference competition.

“We took it as a trial run for the Big Ten,” Heller said.  “It was equitant to one of the better teams that we were going to play in the Big Ten, so it was a situation we weren’t as used to, but nonetheless, I wasn’t disappointed in any way with our effort.”

Growing from the experience, the Hawks will lean that when they travel to Port Charlotte, Fla., for the Snowbird Classic.

The Black and Gold will play four games in three days, including a doubleheader Saturday afternoon against St. Joseph’s and Georgetown.  The weekend will mark the end of pre-season competition for the Hawkeyes. 

Now with some serious experience under their belts, the Hawkeyes will try to get back to their winning ways this weekend.

“Losing was probably the best thing that could have happened to us,” junior Sasha Kuebel said. “We had been winning a lot, so that kind of humbled us a bit, but at the same time, we know that we can play with anybody now.”


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