April 13, 2009
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Jack Dahm said that his University of Iowa baseball team needs something good to happen. For Northern Iowa skipper Rick Heller, every game is one more memory during a bittersweet final season of Division I baseball.
Dahm and Heller, Iowa and Northern Iowa, will play for a final time Tuesday, April 28, in the sixth annual Corridor Classic at Veterans Memorial Stadium, home of the minor league Cedar Rapids Kernels. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
“I expect this to be a very, very special game,” said Dahm at a media conference Monday afternoon at Veterans Stadium. “Make the call out to the people of Eastern Iowa to come out and support the ADA (American Diabetes Association). We would like to make it a special event and have an outstanding game.”
The Hawkeyes and Panthers also play Wednesday, April 22, at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City beginning at 6 p.m. Iowa is currently 11-20 overall and Northern Iowa is 14-18. The Hawkeyes have dropped seven games in a row, but two were by one run and another by two runs.
“We need something good to happen,” Dahm said. “Kids are very fragile and we’re pressing a little bit.”
Dahm held a team meeting Monday morning and used the Panther program as an example.
“Think about what the Northern Iowa players are going through right now,” Dahm told his players. “They had the rug pulled out from underneath them. That’s pressure. We need to realize we’re pretty fortunate to be able to be playing baseball. We just need some good things to happen to us. Our guys deserve to have success. It’s not too late.”
After season No. 103, Northern Iowa has decided to discontinue its baseball program. Heller doesn’t expect that to diminish the atmosphere at the Corridor Classic.
“Our kids always enjoy coming and playing at this stadium and playing against Iowa,” Heller said. “It means a lot. It’s been a blast to come down here. If you get a chance to play in front of some people on a nice field against a good opponent in a rivalry, it’s a lot of fun. Our guys will enjoy that for sure.”
Iowa has come out on top in the last two Corridor Classics — 5-4 in 2007 and 10-6 in 2008 — after the Panthers claimed three wins from 2004-06. In the past five years, the event has raised more than $450,000 for the ADA, with the majority of money staying in Eastern Iowa.
“That makes me feel proud that we’ve been able to raise almost a half million dollars for the ADA,” Heller said. “Sadly, this will be the last one for me. This has been a great event and done for all the right reasons and especially for baseball in our state.”
Dahm said there is no good that comes out of dropping a baseball program and that he is `hurting’ for Heller and the Panther players.
“Although I still want to beat you, Rick,” Dahm said.
Tickets for seating in the stadium are available now, ranging in price from $7-10. Mezzanine seating, which includes a game ticket and all-you-can-eat-and-drink privileges, is also available for $25. For more information or to order tickets, contact the Cedar Rapids Kernels ticket office at 319-896-7560.