Pitching woes doom Iowa baseball in 14-1 loss to Illinois

The Hawkeyes’ pitching staff surrendered 11 hits and walked 13 batters Saturday.


David Harmantas

Iowa’s Duncan Davitt pitches the ball during a baseball game against Clarke University on Tuesday, Apr. 2, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Pride 3-2.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Across nine innings of action Saturday, eight members of Iowa baseball’s pitching staff took the mound — none of which threw for more than three frames.

The Hawkeyes’ pitchers surrendered 11 hits and walked 13 batters in Iowa’s 14-1 loss to Illinois. 

Iowa’s starter, Duncan Davitt, tossed just 2.2 innings, giving up four hits, seven earned runs, and three walks.

“Duncan had a rough start,” Hawkeye head coach Rick Heller said postgame. “We fell behind early. We didn’t minimize at all in [the third inning] and gave up six runs. [When] you have to go to the bullpen that early, it makes it difficult.”

After the Illini’s six-run third inning, the Hawkeyes never quite regained their footing, as Illinois scored five runs in the seventh inning and two more in the ninth frame.

On the afternoon, Iowa’s bats only generated three hits and one run. Left fielder Brayden Frazier and third baseman Matthew Sosa were the only Hawkeyes to reach a base via a hit Saturday.

“[Ilini starting pitcher Nathan Lavender] was really good today,” Heller said. “I mean, he was dialed in and [his] fastball was really good … and that makes it tough to come back.”

With Friday’s 5-4 Hawkeye win and Saturday’s 14-1 Iowa loss now in the books, Heller and his squad will shift their attention to Sunday’s rubber match with the Illini at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City.

“I think we’ve had our same approach to every game for the entire season and we’ve found success with it, and we’re not going to change anything going in tomorrow,” senior catcher Austin Martin said. “It’s just another day, and we kinda got exposed on certain levels of the game [Saturday]. We’re going to wipe it away as we say and treat tomorrow as a new day.”

Saturday’s loss comes as Iowa’s pursuit of an NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament berth continues. The Hawkeyes are currently 22-15 overall, and as of May 13, they rank 55th in the nation per the NCAA Ratings Percentage Index (RPI).

The NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament features a field of 64 teams. In its May 12 projections, Baseball America listed Iowa among the teams it expects to make this year’s NCAA tournament.

Despite that, Heller hasn’t put any additional pressure on his team as the postseason approaches.

“Nah, you don’t,” Heller said. “You just don’t. I mean, if we play well, we got a chance to win. If we’re sloppy like we were today, especially on the mound, it makes it tough to beat anybody.”

Counting Sunday’s game, Iowa has just seven contests remaining on its schedule. The NCAA tournament selection show will air on ESPN2 May 31 at 11 a.m.

The Hawkeyes will celebrate their seniors before Sunday’s series finale with Illinois, as Iowa’s last two tilts of the regular season will come on the road against Northwestern and Michigan State, respectively.

Action between the Hawkeyes and Fighting Illini is slated to begin at 1:05 p.m. and stream live on BTN+.

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