March 25, 2015
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By BEN SCHMITZ
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Five Bradley pitchers combined to limit the University of Iowa baseball team to two runs on 10 hits Wednesday night as the Braves posted a 5-2 win over the Hawkeyes at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.
The loss drops Iowa’s record to 14-6, Bradley improves to 17-5.
“We put ourselves in good position four out of the first five innings,” said UI head coach Rick Heller. “Four times though we weren’t able to score a run with guys on base and less than two outs. We let them off the hook with some horrible at-bats in those situations. When you don’t figure out a way to get at least one of those runs in you set yourself up for a game like today.”
Bradley’s bats took an early 1-0 lead, plating the opening run in the second inning. With no one on, Paul Solka got things started with a one-out triple to put himself in scoring position. Drew Carlisle then delivered, connecting on a sacrifice fly to make the score 1-0.
Senior Eric Toole evened the score at one in the bottom of the third. The outfielder led off with a single up the middle before stealing second for his 13th steal of the season. A Jake Mangler grounder advanced Toole to third before he scored on a wild pitch.
The Braves built a 5-1 lead with run support in three straight innings, which began with a two-run fifth inning. Bradley’s Carson Weber and Elliot Ashbeck applied the damage scoring off a pair of hits and a passed ball. Evan Gruener and Solka added on in the sixth and seventh innings, plating two runs on a pair of hits.
Struggling to generate offense, the Hawkeye bats were cold with runners in scoring position throughout the game. Iowa went 3-for-17 on the night with runners in scoring position and left runners stranded at third on four separate occasions.
“We have to go out and play with a little more confidence in those situations,” said Heller. “We have no reason not to. We’ve got good players on this team that are capable of doing it. You hope a day like today is just a bad day and you can wipe it away.
“You’ll get those several times a year early on in the season and today was the worst of them. Somehow and someway we’ve got to find a way to clear it and wipe it away and build on our confidence.”
John Barrett plated the final run, scoring off a Toole single to right field that narrowed the deficit to the final 5-2 decision.
Jordan Fedro (2-0) started on the mound for Bradley and was credited with the win after four innings of work. UI senior Brandon Shulista (1-2) was charged with the loss following a two-hit and two-run outing that covered 2/3 of an inning of work.
The Hawkeyes return to action Friday at 3 p.m. (CT), opening Big Ten play with a three-game series against No. 19 Indiana.
“We’ll have to pitch better than we did today against Indiana,” said Heller. “Almost all the runs we gave up came off of walks and a hit by pitch. Good teams will make you pay when you do that.
“Bradley was fortunate they had a few hits fall with two outs or two strikes. The teams that get those two-out hits usually win games. Against Indiana we’ll need to play error and walk free baseball and take advantage of the opportunities we get with their outstanding pitching.”