We talked yesterday about Iowa's odds of making it into the Big Ten Tournament this year, but that discussion takes back-burner this weekend for a visit from Kansas State for a three-game non-conference series. The results of these games will have no impact on Iowa's quest to move up in the Big Ten standings (although wins would obviously help their overall record, should that prove to be a relevant tiebreaker down the road). These games with Kansas State are more about Iowa trying to get some good momentum going (for whatever that's worth) at the plate and on the mound as they head into the home stretch of the season. And hopefully they can give the home fans a few more wins to cheer about.
KANSAS STATE TIDBITS
K-State is 19-22 overall and 5-10 in the Big 12, but they've won three in a row heading into this game, taking two of three from Baylor and beating Grand Canyon earlier this week. K-State leads the all-time series against Iowa, 13-7, and has won the last six games in a row against Iowa, including a 5-4 win in Iowa's season opener last year. Iowa last beat the Wildcats in 2013, winning the first game of a three-game series in Iowa City.
The Wildcats are hitting .293 as a team (Iowa, by comparison, is hitting .268 as a team) and have five regulars batting over .300 this year (Iowa, by comparison, has two). Clayton Dalrymple is leading the way for them with a .363 batting average, .464 slugging percentage, and a .436 on-base percentage. Jake Scudder (.331 BA, .503 SLG, .408 OB, 6 HR, 7 2B) and Josh Rolette (.310 BA, .465 SLG, .383 OB, 4 HR, 12 2B) have provided the most power for the Widlcats this year.
K-State has struggled more on the mound, posting a team ERA of 5.05 (Iowa has a team ERA of 4.01). None of their regular starters have ERAs below 4.58. K-State scores a lot of runs (264), but they also give up a lot of runs (240). Levi MaVorhis is leading the K-State starters in ERA (4.58), innings pitched (59.0), and strikeouts (56) and has thrown just seven walks, but opposing hitters are also batting .280 against him. Parker Rigler and Corey Fishcher have been K-State's other regular starters, with Rigler posting 50 strikeouts (against 17 walks) and holding opposing batters to a .257 average, while Fischer has thrown 32 strikeouts (against 16 walks) and held batters to a .273 average. K-State has an array of relievers at their disposal, but none of them have standout stats.
PITCHING MATCH-UPS AND INFO
Game One: Kansas State at Iowa -- Friday, April 29, 6 PM CT
Iowa: RHP C.J. Eldred (SO, 2-5, 3.05 ERA)
Kansas State: LHP Parker Rigler (JR, 2-6, 4.81 ERA)
Eldred has been Iowa's best pitcher all season, although he's been on the wrong end of the decision more often than not. Hopefully he brings his best stuff tonight and helps Iowa get the series off to a good start.
Game Two: Kansas State at Iowa -- Saturday, April 30, 2 PM CT
Iowa: LHP Ryan Erickson (JR, 1-1, 3.97 ERA)
Kansas State: RHP Levi MaVorhis (SR, 5-3, 4.58 ERA)
Erickson has replaced Tyler Peyton in Iowa's weekend rotation and has generally produced some solid results; hopefully he's able to do in this game as well. K-State will counter with MaVorthis, who appears to be their best pitcher.
Game Three: Kansas State at Iowa -- Sunday, May 1, 1 PM CT
Iowa: RHP Calvin Mathews (SR, 0-3, 7.16 ERA)
Kansas State: RHP Corey Fischer (SR, 2-3, 4.73 ERA)
Mathews has had an extremely rocky and disappointing season, but we live in hope for that elusive bounce-back performance. If that doesn't come to pass, Nick Gallagher and Nick Allgeyer may get called upon in relief for the Hawkeyes.
HOW TO WATCH/LISTEN/FOLLOW ALONG
The first two games of the series will be streamed on BTN Plus, while Sunday's game will be on Hawkeye All-Access ($); all games will also be available via GameTracker. You can also follow @UIBaseball on Twitter for regular updates. Friday's game will also have a radio broadcast on AM-800 KXIC.
We'll try to post updates in the comments, but feel free to post your own, too!