Iowa gives one away

BY JACOB SHEYKO | APRIL 16, 2014 5:00 AM

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After Iowa baseball’s 8-6 loss to Western Illinois, head coach Rick Heller spoke about what separated the good teams from the great ones. This game was one of those aspects.

In a game that was filled with blunders from both teams, the Hawkeyes repeatedly shot themselves in the foot and failed to take advantage of Western Illinois’ blunders, ultimately losing to a team that leaves this matchup with just 10 wins.

“If you look at a lot of our losses, it’s the big inning [that hurts us],” Heller said. “We’ve got to find a way to stop that, when it starts to go downhill.”

The Hawkeyes’ blunder-filled game started in the fifth inning when Western Illinois’ Zack Burling hit a hard grounder to Hawkeye third baseman Nick Roscetti, who bobbled the ball then tried to make a throw, throwing it past first baseman Tyler Peyton.

Burling advanced to second base on the error, and Iowa’s woes were just starting.

Following the Roscetti error, seemingly everything went wrong for the Hawkeyes. First, a throwing error by relief pitcher Matt Allen, then on a ball that ricocheted off Allen, an error by second baseman Jake Mangler.

“The first play was an error,” Heller said. “”The next two were just guys trying to make plays.”

And last, on a steal attempt, catcher Jimmy Frankos attempted to catch the base robber but short-armed the throw, giving shortstop Jake Yacinich a tough hop he couldn’t handle, bringing in the 4th run of the inning.

To add insult to injury, a Western Illinois bunt attempt that was initially foul, rolled back into fair territory, giving the Leathernecks their 5th and final run of the inning. 

“We’re a team that prides ourselves on defense and being one of the best defensive teams in the country,” Frankos said. “Stuff like that, it’s inexcusable. We know that, and we’re going to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

But when Iowa played sloppy, Western Illinois returned the favor, sparking an Iowa rally by plunking three-straight hitters in the seventh inning. Iowa used that to score 3 runs.

Western Illinois followed this up by almost literally throwing the game away in the ninth inning.

With two outs, Taylor Zeutenhorst dribbled a ground ball back to the pitcher, who threw the ball away, allowing Iowa to tie the game up. And in an attempt to win the game, shortstop Jake Yacinich was waved home and tagged out at the plate. 

“We were that close to walking out of here saying that we lived through a day where we didn’t play that well,” Heller said. “But unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

The play seemingly sucked the air out of Banks Field. Western Illinois scored 2 runs in the 10th, and in a perfect ending to a sloppy game, a Nick Day shot was robbed at the fence to hand Iowa its 14th loss of the season.

Providing a solution to winning these games may not be simple, but providing a solution to moving on from these losses may be, something pitcher Blake Hickman stated afterwards.

“We’ll try to forget about this one.”

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