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Runners left on base cause problems for Iowa baseball

BY COURTNEY BAUMANN | MARCH 26, 2015 5:00 AM

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Although the Iowa baseball team lost, 5-2, to Bradley Wednesday, it was not as if the team never had a chance.

As a matter of fact, there were plenty of missed opportunities. The Hawkeyes left seven runners in scoring position that they could not convert into runs.

“We really let them off the hook. We had some horrible at bats in those situations, and when you don’t find a way to get that run in, you set yourself up for a day like today,” head coach Rick Heller said. “We had our opportunities, but we blew it.”

Iowa’s chances came early in the game. In each of the first three innings, the team left a runner on third. Two more were stranded at second and third in the fifth inning. Not until late did the Hawkeyes had another real opportunity to cross runners across the plate.

The Hawkeyes left one on second in the eighth, and showed signs of a rally in the ninth — scoring one and leaving two stranded — but ultimately could not convert.

In addition to the seven runners left in scoring position, the team left three runners on first throughout the game, totaling 10 left.

“It’s just focus,” redshirt senior Jake Mangler said. “We know what to do, we’ve been over it a million times, coaches have gone through it, guys have been in the situation before. It’s just the confidence of knowing you can get it done then going and doing it.”

It was not necessarily a lack of focus that left runners on base but perhaps too much focus. The second baseman noted that he sees his teammates putting added pressure on themselves to perform, which in turn causes them not to.

“The guys are just trying to do more than what they’re actually capable of doing,” starting pitcher Connor Grant said.

Trying to do too much also caused problems with pitch selection for the Hawkeyes. Rather than waiting on a ball they could drive, players waved at not-so-great pitches that ended up being weak ground balls and pop-ups.

Eleven of the Hawkeyes’ 27 outs came from either ground balls or pop-ups to the infield — two of which were double play balls to end an inning in which there there were runners on third.

“If you’re looking for a pitch up in the zone that you can elevate and lift up into the outfield, and you go up and swing at pitches below your knees and hit weak ground balls on the first pitch, that tells me you’re not very disciplined, at the very worst,” Heller said. “It was some poor pitch selection without question.”

To recover any lost confidence, the Hawkeyes will stick to what they know. Practice will be normal in the upcoming days, with an added emphasis on knowing what to look for in certain situations. 

“That’s just baseball. That’s the way it goes,” Heller said. “We had opportunities, and they had opportunities. You’re only going to get so many opportunities in a game.”


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