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Ten runners left on base.

Four times the Iowa baseball team stepped up to the plate Wednesday in key situations, and all four times they squashed an opportunity to narrow the deficit in what was an eventual 5-2 loss to Bradley at Duane Banks Field.

The Hawkeyes (14-6) struggled offensively, and it proved detrimental.

"We had our chances to score," Iowa right fielder Joel Booker said. "We left too many people on base. … We can't get complacent and think we can just show up and win. We have to go out there and earn it every day."

In the first inning, four-hitter Dan Potempa grounded into a double play with runners at the corners and one out. The same scenario happened the very next frame, but Nick Roscetti popped out and Nick Day grounded out to end the second.

Another first-and-third and one-out situation occurred in the third frame, but Booker, batting fifth, grounded into a double play. Then, in the fifth with runners on second and third, three-hitter Tyler Peyton flied out to center and Potempa flied out to left.

Iowa averages 4.7 runs per game. Chances to score in bunches and miss opportunities can't happen often.

"We let them off the hook," Iowa coach Rick Heller said. "We had some horrible at-bats in those situations. When you don't find a way to get that run in, at least get one in, you set yourself up for a day like today. We had our opportunity. We blew it. Then they settled in a little bit."

Wednesday was a shot for the Hawkeyes to boost their profile. Bradley (17-5) is fifth in the nation in RPI, while Heller's club is 30th.

Albeit a midweek contest – when teams use a litany of players, including pitchers – Iowa needs to rack up victories if it wants to come through on a possible NCAA Tournament bid this season.

"We have to go out and play with a little more confidence in these situations," Heller said. "We really have no reason not to. We're off to a good start, we have a good hitting team, and we have good players.

"To go out today and see what we saw, you hope it's just a bad day. But we've had several times early in the year when that's kind of happened. Today was the worst of all."

The Big Ten season is next for Iowa.

Indiana (16-5) travels to Iowa City this weekend for a three-game series.

No time to waste – especially if the middle of the order steps to the plate again with a runner at third and less than two outs.

"Somehow, someway," Heller said, "we need to clear this, wipe it away, and go up in those situations and be more productive."

Reach Matt Cozzi at mcozzi@press-citizen.com or 319-887-5409, and follow him on Twitter at @matt_cozzi.

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