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Hawkeyes hit cold spot

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | MARCH 27, 2014 5:00 AM

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After blasting the cover off the ball in its three-game series against Nebraska last weekend, the Iowa baseball team struggled against the wind and Bradley pitcher Elliot Ashbeck and dropped its Wednesday matinee, 7-0.

Though they gave up just 8 hits, the Black and Gold failed to generate any offense, stranding four runners on just 5 hits.

“The big story today was how Ashbeck shut us down,” head coach Rick Heller said.  “To have a midweek guy like they do in him is going to really allow them to win some games.

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“Unfortunately for us, we don’t have that kind of guy, so we had to produce some runs and we didn’t.  It just wasn’t our day.”

In one of the most un-orthodox pitching outings fans will see, the Hawks cycled through eight pitchers over nine innings, including left-handers Sasha Keubel and Jared Mandel.

Heller and his staff were dealt a curve ball on Tuesday night when pitcher Andrew Hedrick suffered an ankle injury.

The loss of Hedrick as well as Brandon Shulista took away two of Iowa’s main inning eaters in their usual midweek rotation.

“I was really proud of the way our young guys came in on the mound and handled themselves,” Heller said. “Unfortunately, [Blake] Hickman and [Nick] Hibbing just weren’t sharp today.”

On the other side of things, Ashbeck pitched a gem into the eighth, including 3 strikeouts. 

“Their pitcher did outstanding, no doubt,” junior Eric Toole said. “He threw a lot of strikes and got us down in the count a ton, and we just weren’t ready with our two-strike approach.”

Scoreless into the sixth inning, both teams kept it tight. The game had all the makings of a classic cold-weather, low-scoring game.

After giving up a run on a wild pitch, Iowa managed to escape the inning without suffering any further damage. It looked like a run they could overcome with some offense of their own.

But the bats didn’t come, and two innings later, the wheels completely fell off the hawkeyes as they gave up 6 runs in the eighth. 

“We just didn’t show up to play today, plain and simple,” Toole said.  “We got 14 hits against Nebraska in the cold this weekend, so we can’t blame it on that, either. We just didn’t get it done today.”

Needless to say it was a frustrating way to lose the game for an Iowa squad that looked locked in the first few innings.

“I told the guys afterwards that that kind of performance is just unacceptable,” Heller said.  “Days like these when your young guys come in and carry you, you have to find a way to score some runs, and we didn’t do that.”

Blame it on luck, blame it on the elements, or blame it on the Hawkeyes themselves, either way you slice it, things just didn’t go right for Iowa. 

“It just wasn’t our day,” sophomore Blake Hickman said. “We just have to wipe the slate clean and forget about it and move on from here.”


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