May 2014

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53 "It was a Godsend with the situation we inherited on the mound with (Taylor) Kaufman, (Josh) Martsching, (Will) Kenny, and (Jacob) Sharp all being hurt. We needed some help, and it was a blessing we were able to pick Tyler up. ank goodness I answered his email." Radtke began the season as a mid-to-late inning reliever, and he struggled early, allowing 10 runs on 11 hits over his first five appearances. Since, Radtke has given up no runs in 11-of-13 appearances, and he took over as Iowa's closer during the Michigan series in late March. He posted a pair of victories in consecutive appearances in Iowa's series sweep over South Dakota State. It's a new role for Radtke, but it fits his demeanor. "I have the attitude to be a closer," he said. "I cannot stand losing and you have to have a chip on your shoulder as a closer with an attitude that I am better than you. Coach (Scott) Brickman and coach Heller want us to go in with a mean attitude on the mound, and be confident in everything we do." Radtke has the "stuff " to be a closer with a low 90s fastball to go with a good breaking ball. Heller says the right-hander has developed into a pitcher that is comfortable in any situation. "He has come a long way with his confidence," said Heller. "Early on I could tell he was nervous and wasn't sure of himself on the mound, but he has made a nice adjustment and I know if I put him in any situation, he's going to take the ball and try to compete and do the best he can. "He's not overwhelmed by the score, the game, or who we're playing. I feel confident that he'll go out there, throw strikes and give us a chance to win." Radtke is grateful for the opportunity to be back in the game. "I am thankful to coach Heller for giving me a chance to come out, play and show what I have," he said. "ere is nothing in the world that I love more right now than playing baseball." Iowa's Unlikely Closer By JAMES ALLAN S ophomore Tyler Radtke has taken over as the University of Iowa baseball team's closer, but it's a role that wouldn't have happened had UI head coach Rick Heller not replied to an email. "It wasn't too long aer I was hired that Tyler sent me a message letting me know he was here, had played at Villanova, and was interested in a tryout," said Heller. "We gave him one, and thank goodness we did." Radtke played at Villanova in 2012, where he was 1-1 with a 2.89 ERA in nine appearances, including four starts. Following his freshman season, the Buffalo Grove, Ill., native was homesick, so he put baseball aside and transferred to the University of Iowa. "I missed being close to home and when I first went out to (Villanova), I didn't think that was going to be a factor," said Radtke. "My dad went to Iowa, so I grew up a Hawkeye fan, and Iowa had a good business school, so I applied." Radtke spent the 2013-14 academic year as solely a student and baseball wasn't part of his routine. He worked out, enjoyed his free time, and his grades flourished, but there was a feeling that something was missing. "e hardest part for me was not having the competitive edge and the team camaraderie," said Radtke. "During the second semester, I decided I wanted to play again." Radtke knew a current Hawkeye — junior Nick Hibbing — from high school. He got the lay of the land and with Iowa going through a coaching change, he elected to wait for Heller to settle in before shooting him the email. "Every year, I get 60-80 emails from kids wanting to play baseball, and maybe one percent have the ability to do it," said Heller. "It is rare to get the email and have it pan out where the kid ends up being a good player.

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