For as potent an offense as the Iowa baseball team has, Saturday’s performance was anything but against Illinois.
The Hawkeyes (27-19, 8-12 Big Ten) lost to Illinois 5-1 Saturday at Duane Banks Field. Following Friday night’s 4-1 loss, Iowa has scored just two runs in 18 innings. The Hawkeyes left six runners on base Saturday against Illini pitching, which was highlighted by starter John Kravetz.
Kravetz stymied an Iowa offense that is ranked first or second in several major offensive categories in the Big Ten. The righty — with a herky-jerky, deceptive throwing motion — allowed a run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings.
“Kravetz established that he was going to be pretty good today,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said. “We had some bad at-bats early, but we let it snowball. I didn’t think we did a very good job offensively today of wiping it away and going to the next at-bat. You have a bad at-bat, you put it behind you and learn from it. … Today was one of the few days this season where some guys got down, and they never picked it back up.”
Iowa had chances to push runs across, but was unsuccessful. The lone run came across via a solo home run from Kris Goodman.
Heller’s squad grounded into three double plays, and four of the six runners left on base were in scoring position.
“It’s a matter of getting it done,” junior shortstop Jake Yacinich said. “Bearing down, getting a pitch to hit with runners in scoring position. If you happen to hit it right at a guy, you do, but we need to get good swings. There’s not much more you can ask from yourself except hitting the ball hard every at-bat.”
Sasha Kuebel kept the Hawkeyes within comeback range on the mound. The lefty went eight innings, giving up four runs on nine hits while walking none and striking out five.
But it was not enough, a theme of the series with the Illini.
Illinois (29-17, 15-5) went into Saturday’s action second in the Big Ten standings, while Iowa entered in a three-way tie for sixth. Eight teams advance to the Big Ten Tournament. With four games remaining, there is little time to gain ground, with Sunday’s s game as an opportunity for the Hawkeyes to salvage the series.
“Offensively, we’re going to have to do something,” Heller said. “It always starts on the mound. You see if you can pitch, you can keep the runs down, but we’re going to have to score four, or five, or six because Illinois is going to get some (runs) too.”