Baseball waltzes, then heads to tourney

Iowa%E2%80%99s+Robert+Neustrom+bats+against+Red+Top+Sports+on+Thursday%2C+July+27%2C+2017.+The+Hawkeyes+unveiled+their+team+USA+uniforms+for+the+game.+Iowa+will+represent+the+United+States+at+the+National+Baseball+Conference+World+Series+and+the+World+University+Games+this+summer.+%28Nick+Rohlman%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Baseball waltzes, then heads to tourney

Iowa’s Robert Neustrom bats against Red Top Sports on Thursday, July 27, 2017. The Hawkeyes unveiled their team USA uniforms for the game. Iowa will represent the United States at the National Baseball Conference World Series and the World University Games this summer. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa’s Robert Neustrom bats against Red Top Sports on Thursday, July 27, 2017. The Hawkeyes unveiled their team USA uniforms for the game. Iowa will represent the United States at the National Baseball Conference World Series and the World University Games this summer. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa’s Robert Neustrom bats against Red Top Sports on Thursday, July 27, 2017. The Hawkeyes unveiled their team USA uniforms for the game. Iowa will represent the United States at the National Baseball Conference World Series and the World University Games this summer. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa’s Robert Neustrom bats against Red Top Sports on Thursday, July 27, 2017. The Hawkeyes unveiled their team USA uniforms for the game. Iowa will represent the United States at the National Baseball Conference World Series and the World University Games this summer. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

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Robert Neustrom powers Hawkeyes past the Iowa Valley All-Stars in their second warm-up game July 27 as they prepare to head to Wichita for the National Baseball Congress World Series.

By Jordan Zuniga

[email protected]

On July 27, the Iowa baseball team beat the Iowa Valley All-Stars, 11-6, in the Hawkeyes’ final game before they head to Wichita for the National Baseball Congress World Series.

The game marked the first time that the Iowa baseball players had a chance to see their new jerseys, and they were excited.

“They’re great,” Tyler Cropley said. “They feel really good. It’s nice to have USA on the front.”

In Thursday’s game, the Hawkeyes hit extremely well; they had 15 hits in the game with four players having multi-hit performances.

But no performance was bigger than Robert Neustrom’s; he finished 3-for-4 with 2 home runs and 4 RBIs.

It was yet another successful night for Neustrom in a year that has had no shortage of them.

During Iowa’s regular season, Neustrom hit .310 with 9 homers and 55 RBIs, and during his Cape Cod Summer league, Neustrom was a hitting machine, knocking .302 with 4 homers and 18 RBIs.

He said his key to consistency has been keeping his emotions in check.

“I think keeping a level head,” he said. “Not getting too high, not staying too low. Keeping that fine line and just sticking with what works for me.”

Now, the Iowa baseball team is in Wichita for the National Baseball Congress series, its first game finishing late Sunday night against the Wellington (Kansas) Heat.

That game will decide which group the Hawkeyes are in and whom they will play on Tuesday and Thursday.

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Iowa coach Rick Heller thinks that the series will not only be crucial for its preparation for the World University Games in Taipei, Taiwan, in late August, it will also be a great experience for the team.

“Championship week at the tournament is a big deal,” Heller said. “You’re talking big crowds, big tradition, big-time players on all those teams, a lot of former minor-league players, big-league players, and great college players — just a mix and match of super good talent. It’s going to be a lot of fun to go down to Wichita. Couldn’t be a better situation to prepare for Taiwan.”

For Heller and the Hawkeyes, the biggest challenge in going to Wichita is that they are still trying to figure out what to expect.

“I really feel kind of unprepared,” Heller said. “I don’t know much about the competition or have any scouting reports. I really don’t know what we’re facing.”

But facing the unknown does not worry Heller; he knows his team can compete with anyone in the tournament.

“If we keep playing good defense and pitch where you don’t give [away] free bases, this team is going to have a chance [to win], because we’re going to score some runs and swing the bats well,” Heller said. “Things will have to go well on the mound; those guys are going to have to really step up and pound the strike zone.”

After the tournament, the Hawkeyes will play one more home warm-up game, on Aug. 10, before they head across the Pacific to Taiwan for the World University Games.

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