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Rain drowns out Hawk rally

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | APRIL 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa pitcher Luke Vandermaten wound up and delivered the 0-2 pitch, striking out Northwestern DH Grant Pikert to send the Hawkeyes to the bottom of the final inning, a chance for yet another dramatic walk-off still in reach.

Three hours and 10 minutes later, Jimmy Frankos’ fly ball sailed into the glove of Northwestern center-fielder Kyle Ruchim, leaving the Iowa rally dead in the water.

Nearly six hours after it began, the final leg of Iowa’s back-to back against Northwestern came to a close, an ill-timed rain delay zapping Iowa’s momentum and chances of completing the comeback.

“After such a long delay like that, it stung to lose,’” Iowa third-basemen Kris Goodman said.  “When something like that happens, you just want to get it out of your mind and move on to the next one, because you have to have a short memory about that kind of stuff.’”

On April 17, the Hawkeyes made a dramatic comeback, erasing a 3-1 deficit in the bottom of the ninth to steal a 4-3 win on Jake Mangler’s walk-off single.

With memories of the victory fresh in the minds of Iowa’s players and coaches, the Hawks were ready to get down to business and steal another one.

Unfortunately for them, Mother Nature had other intentions.

“It was either wait it out and play after it passed or have to come back Sunday afternoon to finish the final inning,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said.  “We weren’t with the decision to finish the game out tonight.”

The double-header was a result of a Sunday weather forecast calling for heavy storms throughout most of the day.

Not wanting to get bogged down in heavy delays and poor conditions, Heller made the decision to move Sunday’s game up and make Saturday a double-header to steer clear of the poor weather.

Instead, they ran into it at full speed.

“I went to bed last night after talking to our weather guys and was set on playing all three days, but then he called me Saturday morning telling me the forecast had really changed,” Heller said.  “His opinion was that we should try to play two because we might be facing an all-day rain Sunday.”

Going against his gut, Heller agreed to move the game up.  It turned out to be a decision he regretted.
“If I had to do it all over in hindsight, I would have went with my gut and stuck it out over all three days,” Heller said.  “You never want to play a double-header, because a lot of things can happen.”

Oddly enough, the April 18 situation wasn’t virgin territory for Heller and his staff. 

One year ago, he made the decision to wait out a major storm that delayed Iowa’s Senior Day by nearly three hours only to see it end in similar fashion: a failed desperation rally in the bottom of the ninth after 130 minutes of idle time.

And while Iowa still took the series against the Wildcats, 2-1, the chance for a sweep would have solidified Iowa’s place alone atop the Big Ten rankings.

The Hawks lost a golden opportunity for a comeback though no real fault of their own.

“It just stings,” Goodman said. “We know we can’t get this one back.”

Follow @ryanarod for news, updates and analysis about the Iowa baseball team.


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