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Midweek struggles continue to plague Hawkeyes

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 09, 2015 5:00 AM

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Against Bradley, it was the bats. Against Western Illinois, it was the defense. On Wednesday against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Iowa had an off day in a 4-3 loss.

Whatever the reason, the Iowa baseball team has struggled in its midweek outings against Division I opponents, losing all three.

The exception to the midweek slump was a March 31st win over Grand View, a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics opponent.

Coming off a series win over Kansas two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes dropped their Wednesday outing, 5-2, against Bradley. Then, the Hawkeyes swept a weekend series with Indiana at home to close out the month of March.

April started with what should have been a relatively easy win for the Hawkeyes, a matchup with Western Illinois. The Leathernecks, however, run-ruled the Hawkeyes en-route to a 16-5 thumping.

A sweep of the weekend at Purdue followed, and Iowa climbed higher in national rankings. However, the Hawkeyes still could not put together a midweek win, and they fell to the Panthers Wednesday.

The Hawkeyes again used a parade of pitchers — nine, to be exact — and some reserves in the field, but the team looked flat and did not capitalize on several opportunities with runners in scoring position or men on base.

“I don’t think we produced offensively when we needed too,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said. “This team is not a real power-driven offensive team.”

Iowa managed to tie the game in the sixth, but gave up single runs in each of the seventh and eighth innings to provide the straws that broke the camel’s back. 

Heller said he isn’t worried about the loss to Milwaukee and thinks team’s midweek fortunes should improve with 10 of their next 11 games coming up at home.

“I think Milwaukee is going to go to a regional,” Heller said. “There’s no disgrace or no disappointment losing to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

“We knew it was going to be a battle.”

It’s true the game was a battle, and the Hawkeyes had the beginnings of a rally in the eighth, but as was the case with Bradley, Heller’s squad could not capitalize with runners on base.

Iowa has another date with Bradley on April 14, this time on the road, will meet Cornell College and Northern Illinois in midweek matchups in April, and then will take on Western Illinois at home May 5 to close out their midweek games.

“It’s something we just have to figure out within ourselves,” senior Eric Toole said. “Coach has tried motivating us, he’s tried letting us play, and things just aren’t working right now.”

In Big Ten play, the Hawkeyes are off to their best start in school history, 6-0, but that success has not translated to midweek clashes.

Heller has said his plan is to use as many pitchers as possible in the midweek games, in order to keep their arms fresh, but the success of the rotation has not been apparent as it has in Big Ten play.

The skipper has also stressed winning these games is important to moving on to the postseason, but the Hawkeyes just haven’t seen the success so far.

Senior Jake Mangler said the team will need to regroup and refocus when the next Wednesday contest rolls around.

“We’ve played two really good teams midweek and then Western Illinois, but I think its just the high of the weekend games,” Mangler said. “We’ve got to approach the games the same way no matter who we’re playing or what the circumstances are.”

Follow @IanFromIowa on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa baseball team.


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