April 26, 2006
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Hawkeyes got Northern Iowa where they wanted it, down by a run with two innings to go, but the Panthers manufactured two runs in an excruciating eighth inning to win their third-straight Corridor Classic, 4-2, Wednesday night.
UNI sophomore Brett Douglas executed a sacrifice bunt to drive in Pat Moran for the winning run before 2,386 fans at Veterans Memorial Stadium in the third-annual classic between the two schools.
“When Northern Iowa needed to execute, they executed very well and that’s the story of the game,” Iowa coach Jack Dahm said. “It’s important for us to continue to add runs in those middle innings and our execution wasn’t good late in the game.”
The Hawkeyes (17-22) got the game started right, with two runs in the first thanks to an RBI triple by junior Jason White. That was matched with a strong performance by freshman pitcher Justin Toole, who got his first collegiate start, and kept the Panthers (20-21) scoreless until the fourth.
“We got to where we wanted to be,” Dahm said. “We just didn’t hold them down.”
It was slim pickings the rest of the night for both teams until Northern Iowa used its short game late the matchup. Scott Brune picked up the loss for Iowa with one inning of relief.
Sophomore left hander Aaron Jenkins picked up his second win for UNI with 10 strikeouts — one short of a career high — three hits and four walks after he gave up two in the first, a performance that drew the praise of Dahm.
“You’re not going to see better pitching in a mid-week game,” the coach said. “Jenkins really settled in and he had that breaking ball going today and threw the ball extremely well.”
“We got to where we wanted to be. We just didn’t hold them down.”
Head Coach Jack Dahm
Brian Burmester, a junior designated hitter, blamed inconsistency for the lack of performance through eight innings. He doubled with one out in the bottom of the ninth to keep a comeback hope available, but the Hawkeyes couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “It’s tough to play baseball when it’s like this. We’re up and down. It’s just the little things that UNI did to beat us tonight, and it’s just frustrating to watch that happen.”
White, the shortstop, agreed the past couple of weeks have been rough on the Hawkeyes, who have dropped six of their last eight contests.
“We haven’t played very consistently,” the junior said. “At times, we did play well, but it was a rollercoaster through the game. We just need to get to that point where we’re playing consistent, relaxed baseball and everything will fall from there.”
Dahm agreed with White’s assessment.
“We’re excited about the work ethic this team has, and if we could find a way to put together a couple of wins and get a streak going, that’s baseball nowadays,” he said.
Iowa will host Big Ten leader Northwestern in a four-game series April 28-30. UNI will host Southern Illinois the same days.
Barry Pump, hawkeyesports.com