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Baseball set for three game series with Cincinnati

BY IAN MURPHY | FEBRUARY 27, 2015 5:00 AM

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Two weeks in a row, Iowa head baseball coach Rick Heller has had to scramble to find a place for his team to play because of inclement weather.

This weekend, Iowa will play a three-game series with the Cincinnati Bearcats in Georgia rather than in the USA Baseball-Irish Classic in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

Last weekend, the Hawkeyes moved farther south, to Texas from Arkansas, for their games against Arkansas-Little Rock and Missouri State.

For Heller and Company, working with the weather is not the issue, playing the game outside is.

“You’ve gotta play somehow when you’re on the verge of not playing,” Heller said. And the Hawkeyes were, in fact, on the verge of not playing, with the forecast for Raleigh, North Carolina, predicting heavy snowfall.

However, plans were rearranged for a trip to Emerson, Georgia, where the Hawkeyes will spend the weekend, although the highs in Georgia are only in the mid 40s.

While switching between indoors and outdoors and all the changing plans may be a challenge for some teams, junior Tyler Peyton said that does not bother him or his teammates.

“I think that’s where the experience comes in,” he said. “With all the juniors and seniors we have who have been through it before.”

Still, the team needs to get outdoors to work out the kinks. In the previous two weekends, either pitching or hitting has struggled, and Heller said getting on the diamond is the key to getting both to fire on all cylinders.

“At this point, it’s just a matter of playing games,” he said. “It’s difficult to do what we’re doing right now, I mean to travel that far, play, and come back inside for four days, three days, and then get back outside.

As far as the players are concerned, they like knowing that pitchers back the hitter when hitting has an off day and vice versa.

Junior Calvin Matthews acknowledged the challenge the hitters face, not seeing pitching outdoors during the early weeks of the season, although he said they would not use that as an excuse.

Last weekend, however, the pitching struggled. The Hawkeyes used five pitchers on Feb. 21, including Matthews, and relied on a walk-off hit from Peyton to beat Missouri State.

“We’ve got the bats in the lineup to get the job done,” Matthews said. “It’s nice to know if you’re pitching well.”

The Hawkeyes will turn their attention to finding both consistency, and this may be the weekend to do it.

The Bearcats are just 1-6 on the young season, although their six losses have come at the hands of Mississippi State and Santa Clara, teams that can practice outside more than either the Hawkeyes or Bearcats.

For the Hawks, the opponent does not matter, the experience does.

“I don’t care who we play,” Heller said. “We just need to play. Once you start playing, it would be catastrophic to us to have to take a week off.”

Follow @IanFromIowa for news, updates, and analysis from the Iowa baseball team.


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