The SDSU baseball team dropped three road games over the weekend to the Iowa Hawkeyes, two of their losses being the result of walk off victories in tight pitching duels.
Friday’s game featured SDSU’s Adam Bray who extended his streak of pitching at least six innings and allowing one run or fewer to six starts as he went the first seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits while striking out nine.
“He’s [Bray] been outstanding for us all year,” said head coach David Schrage. “He’s been the model of consistency. Every time he goes out he gives us a chance to win, and probably he should be 9-0 with as good as he’s pitched.”
Calvin Matthews drew the start for the Hawkeyes, going the first three and a third and giving up SDSU’s lone run of the game, a home run to freshman, and Iowa native, Matt Johnson.
Matthews then gave way to Blake Hickman, Jared Randel and Tyler Radke who combined to shut down the Jacks for the final seven and two-thirds in which they surrendered just two hits and five walks while striking out 15.
“We’ve been inconsistent [hitting],” Schrage said. “Nineteen strikeouts on Friday night against Iowa. I thought we had gotten over the hump. We had won seven out of ten going into that series and I thought a lot of that had to do with our offense being more consistent. … We reverted back a little bit.”
Iowa finally broke the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the 11th when Taylor Zeutenhorst drove in Jake Yacinich with a two out single off J.D. Moore in his third inning of work.
Saturday’s early game featured slightly more offense, but not much as when Chris Anderson took the hill for the Jacks. He allowed 10 hits over the course of six and two-thirds innings, but limited the Hawkeyes to three runs partially due to his 10 strikeouts.
The Hawkeyes countered with Sasha Kuebel who scattered just four hits over seven innings and allowed three runs, only two of them earned.
SDSU’s strongest inning was the fifth when Paul Jacobson and Sam Pack singled and later scored. They would then add another run in the seventh when Scott Splett reached on an error and later scored on a double play.
The two teams would then enter the ninth deadlocked when Nick Day was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning and later went on to score on a Tyler Peyton single to centerfield.
“I think that’s seven [walk off losses] now off the season,” Schrage said. “It’s tough. It’s really challenged the mental aspect of our ball club. I really think it caught up to us in game three. For the first time in the season our guys kind of rolled over a bit.”
Iowa ran away with the final game of the series, winning 12- 3.
Chad Hodges took the loss for SDSU, getting knocked out of the game after going just three innings and allowing five runs to cross the plate. The bullpen did little to shut the Hawkeyes down, Marcus Heemstra being the only pitcher to not surrender a run.
Johnson picked up his second RBI of the weekend when he doubled home Zach Coppola. Aaron Machbitz later scored on a Jordan Varga groundout to short.
The Jacks added their last run in the ninth when Reid Clary doubled and was singled home by Cody Sharrow.
“My biggest job as a coach right now is to get our team mentally back and ready for the stretch because all our goals are still there,” Schrage said. “Two games separate every team in the league so who knows how the league is going to end up and we have eight home games out of twelve.”
After playing at Sioux Falls on April 30, the Jacks will return home for a four game series against the Omaha Mavericks, starting on May 2.
It will be the first time the Jacks host Omaha. According to Schrage, Omaha’s top four hitters will be the best SDSU has faced all season. He also mentioned that the Mavericks are different to prepare for because they use their breaking balls pitches to set up their fastballs.