Hawkeyes drop series to Michigan

BY JACOB SHEYKO | MARCH 31, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa baseball team dropped two of their three games with Michigan this past weekend. And in process, the importance of the minute details in winning close games in the Big Ten reared its head.
All three games were determined by 2 or fewer runs. Iowa took the first game 3-2, then lost the final two, 4-2 and 6-5.

Iowa’s first matchup with Michigan was all about sophomore pitcher Calvin Matthews, something Iowa head coach Rick Heller was quick to point out.

“The story of the day is Calvin,” Heller said in a press release. “He was in total control all afternoon long.  He worked out of a couple of jams in the first and third, but after that he settled in and pitched fantastic.  It was a tremendous performance, and he stepped up big for us on a Friday night.”

Matthews has been electric all season long, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.91 ERA. However, on March 28, he did something he had not done all season, taking the ball for all nine innings and pitching the first complete game of his career.

The Bloomfield, Iowa, native was particularly effective following the first three innings, in which he allowed 2 runs on 4 hits. After struggling through those innings, Matthews allowed just 2 hits in the remainder of the game.

He also tied a career-high with 9 strikeouts and no walks.

In the second game, Iowa followed up Matthews’ performance with another solid outing, this time from junior Sasha Kuebel.

He tossed seven innings and gave up just 1 earned run, striking out 8 and walking 1.

However, Kuebel received little support from his teammates, both offensively and defensively; Iowa could only muster 2 runs and gave up 3 unearned runs.

“It was a disappointing loss on a day that we wasted a tremendous pitching performance from Sasha Kuebel,” Heller said afterwards.

The final game of the three-game series showcased a different style of play for Iowa.

Starting pitcher Tyler Peyton struggled on the mound, but due to a late eighth inning rally, the Hawkeyes were able to make a game of it.

However, in walk-off fashion, Iowa dropped its first series to a Big Ten team this season, moving their conference record to 3-3.

Through the first seven innings, Iowa could only muster 4 hits. Facing a 5-0 deficit, Iowa reeled off 5 runs in the eighth inning, tying the game.

Following a scoreless ninth for the Hawkeyes, Michigan’s Jackson Glines singled to right field, scoring Jackson Lamb and sending the Hawkeyes home with a loss.

“I admire the fight in our guys; we didn’t give up after we didn’t have a good day at the plate,” Heller said. “Their lefty was in control all game long and was tough. We kept battling and found a way to tie it up.”

Iowa’s focus will remain on what went wrong against Michigan and fixing that in time for the game against Bradley on Wednesday, a team that throttled them, 7-0, in their first meeting.

“It was a tough weekend for us because it’s one we could have won all three if we played good baseball,” Heller said.

“It was a sign to me and our team that we have to go back to the drawing board on things, and we have to improve this week.”

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