May 24, 2010
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The more things change, the more Jack Dahm wants his University of Iowa baseball team to remain the same.
The Hawkeyes used a sweep of the Purdue Boilermakers last weekend at Duane Banks Field on the UI campus to lay claim to the No. 4 seed in the 2010 Big Ten Conference Baseball Tournament, a four-day event that gets underway Wednesday at 11 a.m. (CDT) with Iowa squaring off against….the Boilermakers.
“It’s a new start that we enter with lots of momentum,” Dahm said when asked about turning right around and playing Purdue for the fourth time in six days.
“My biggest concern isn’t who we’re playing. My concern is us. My concern is whether we’ll play hungry like we have been or whether we’ll be satisfied. Getting to the Tournament was one goal…but it wasn’t our only goal.
“We need to stay focused and play like we have been playing. We can’t be satisfied. Winning a Big Ten championship is also a goal and now that goal is in front of us.”
That opportunity was made real by victories in seven of their last eight Big Ten games, a streak that was capped by the Hawkeyes’ first series sweep since 2007. The three wins also sent Iowa packing for post-season play for the first time since 2007 and the third time under Dahm.
“We’re playing very fundamentally sound baseball. Our offensive and defensive execution has been outstanding. And, we’re playing with confidence and that’s very, very important,” said Dahm.
Pitching is always at a premium but even more so in post-season play when, like this week’s event in Columbus, Ohio, games come one after another after another. Dahm likes what he has in (Jarred) Hippen and others who will likely see action on the hill.
“It’s been a strength of the team all year,” Dahm said flatly.
“My biggest concern isn’t who we’re playing. My concern is us. My concern is whether we’ll play hungry like we have been or whether we’ll be satisfied. Getting to the Tournament was one goal…but it wasn’t our only goal.”
Iowa’s head coach will turn to his ace, Hippen, in the Tournament’s opener. The southpaw, who was today tabbed co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, has registered complete game victories against four Big Ten opponents this spring. And, as far as Dahm is concerned, his 5-4 overall record is deceiving.
“He left the mound in more than a few games with a lead,” Dahm said. “He’s an all-Big Ten pitcher, first or second team, I don’t know. But, he’s been that good.”
After Hippen, Dahm will turn to sophomore Nick Brown, Iowa’s No. 2 man who is 4-2 since joining the rotation after the first part of the season was in the rear view mirror.
“Nick has been a great addition,” said Dahm, who also had high praise for his bullpen.
“Zach (Robertson) has done a fantastic job,” Iowa’s seventh-year head coach said of his middle reliever, who is a perfect 4-0 in league action with a 2.45 earned run average while limiting opposing hitters to just a combined .195 average.
Junior Kevin Lee, the Hawkeyes’ closer, leads the team with a school single-season record 11 saves, six against Big Ten foes.
“Every game is important, but it’s important to get off to a good start,” Dahm said when asked about the importance of winning the opener. “We’re going to battle just like we’ve battled all season.”
A win on Wednesday puts Iowa in either Game 4 (2:35 p.m. Iowa time) or Game 5 (6:05 p.m.) on Thursday. A loss drops them into the loser’s bracket and Game 3 at 11:05 a.m. Thursday. Every game in the double-elimination tournament will be televised live by the Big Ten Network (HD). All games are also available live on KXIC-AM 800 Iowa City and on the world wide web inside Hawkeye All-Access, the multi-media area of hawkeyesports.com.