Hawkeyes Fall to Northern Illinois, 5-4

March 26, 2008

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IOWA CITY, IA – Northern Illinois led start-to-finish en route to a 5-4 victory over the Iowa baseball team Wednesday afternoon at Duane Banks Field. The loss drops the Hawkeyes’ record to 7-9, while the Huskies improve to 9-11.

Leading the Hawkeyes today were Justin Toole, Kyle Riffel and Kody McManis. Toole went 2-for-5, driving in three RBI. Today marked Toole’s team-leading seventh multi-RBI game. Riffel went 2-for-4 with an RBI, extending his hitting streak to nine games. It also marked the fifth game this season the senior recorded two hits or more in a game. McManis posted his first multi-hit game of the season, going 2-for-3 and scored a run.

“I felt like our energy level was down today, we didn’t have much hop to our step,” said Iowa Head Coach Jack Dahm. “We started to play better after giving up the five runs. We had our opportunities today, but were unable to capitalize on runners in scoring position.”

Freshman righthander Zach Kenyon suffered the loss (0-1), starting his second career game today. The native of Davenport, IA, native threw three innings, allowing three runs on four hits. Northern Illinois lefthander starter Dave Reynolds (2-0) threw five and two thirds innings, striking out six in earning his second win of the year.

Reynolds helped his own cause giving the Huskies a 1-0 first-inning lead with a two-out RBI hit to right field. The Huskies extended their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third, scoring two runs on two hits. Northern Illinois plated its two third-inning runs on a sacrifice fly and a bases loaded walk.

The Black and Gold scored two runs on a Toole two-out RBI double to left field in the bottom of the third to trim the deficit to one (3-2). McManis started the rally with a one-out double to left. Kevin Hoef followed with a walk. Two batters later, Toole delivered his fifth two-bagger of the year. The RBIs are the 20th and 21st of the year for the junior.

Northern Illinois regained a three-run lead (5-2), scoring two runs in the top of the fourth on three hits and a Hawkeye error. The Huskies scored their fourth run on a wild pitch and their fifth on a two-out RBI single to right center.

Iowa closed to within two runs (5-3) in the bottom of the sixth. Kurtis Muller registered a two-out walk and then stole second. Riffel then hit a rocket back up the middle to score Muller for his 13th RBI of the season. The Hawkeyes eventually loaded the bases, but were unable to cross home plate again in the sixth inning.

The Hawkeyes inched closer in the bottom of the seventh, scoring one to pull within 5-4. Hoef started the inning off by being hit-by-pitch. Two batters later, Toole recorded his third RBI of the contest with an RBI single up the middle.

Iowa had the tying runner on third base and the winning run on first with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, but Toole grounded into a fielder’s choice to end the game.

“Even if we would have had a win today, we as a coaching staff would have felt the same,” Dahm said. “It’s all about our approach to the game, not wins and losses. And we need to improve in that area. We have some good kids but we also have some young guys and we need make strides in that area.

“Bottom line is we need someone to step up,” Dahm said. “And it appears as though Justin Toole and Kyle Riffel are taking strides to do that for us.”

After Kenyon and Patrick Schatz allowed five runs the first four innings, Iowa’s bullpen of Steve Turnbull, Jason Belk and Kyle Heim pitched five scoreless innings, yielding only two hits.

Iowa opens Big Ten play this weekend when it travels to Ann Arbor, MI, to face the Michigan Wolverines. The four-game series begins with a single game Friday at 2 p.m. (CDT).

GAME SUMMARYNorthern Illinois       102  200  000  ---  5  9  1Iowa            002  001  100  ---  4  9  1
WP - Reynolds (2-0)LP - Kenyon (0-1)SV - Deain (2)