On the heels of three consecutive series victories to start out Big Ten play in 2018, the Hawkeyes are on the road again to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In case you missed it, the Hawkeyes took two of three games against Ohio State last weekend and were able to demolish a hapless Coe College squad on Wednesday, thanks to a huge day from Lorenzo Elion.
Now, they get a struggling Nebraska team who is coming off a midweek victory against Kansas State in Manhattan, KS. The weather in Lincoln is expected to be really crappy this weekend, and as a result, Iowa will be playing their third doubleheader of the conference slate already this season. Then, depending on weather, they’re going to try to get a game in on Sunday afternoon. Let’s hope the lousy Smapril weather stays away long enough for these three games to get played.
Friday (Game 1): 2:05 p.m. CT
Probables: LHP Nick Allgeyer (3-3, 2.34 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Alvarado (2-3, 3.00 ERA)
Friday (Game 2): 6:00 p.m. CT (or 45 minutes after Game 1)
Probables: RHP Brady Schanuel (5-3, 4.14 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Waldron (2-2, 3.94 ERA)
Sunday: 1:05 p.m. CT
Probables: RHP Cole McDonald (2-1, 3.19 ERA) vs. RHP Matt Warren (3-2, 5.60 ERA)
Unlike the last handful of opponents that the Hawkeyes have had on the schedule, Nebraska comes into this weekend series on a bit of a skid. The Huskers are 15-16 on the season, including a 2-6 mark in conference play, and have won just three of their most recent 10 games. They also rank ninth in the Big Ten in RPI, sitting at 101st in the nation and incredibly far behind the Hawks, who currently find themselves at 34.
The Huskers have struggled in a big way on the mound this season, with very few exceptions. Their staff ERA comes in at 5.30 and a .301 BAA, and the guys that skew that number lower are few and far between. Of pitchers with at least eight appearances this season, there are only four guys who have an ERA under 4. The two members of their staff with the most appearances - Mike Waldron with 12 appearances and Byron Hood with 11 - have a 7.25 and 12.91 ERA, respectively. It’s not an ideal situation that the Huskers have been in pitching-wise thus far this season.
I did mention a couple guys that are skewing their numbers up, and they’re really solid. Luis Alvarado and his 3.00 ERA, 44 strikeouts, and .250 BAA are all tops for their starters. He’s struggled a bit as of late, giving up 12 runs (7 earned) over his past three starts, but he’s easily been their most effective starter all season. In the bullpen, closer Jake Hohensee has been near unhittable - he owns seven saves, a 0.73 ERA, and opponents hit just .136 against him. If the Huskers get a lead late, expect him to put the Iowa batters in a pretzel this weekend.
At the plate, Nebraska has a couple of really solid hitters to watch out for. Senior Scott Schreiber is having the best season of his collegiate career so far in 2018, hitting .416 with 11 home runs and 30 RBI. After him, the drop off is pretty significant - Jesse Wilkening hits a modest .310 with four long balls and 32 RBI, although man, that really just shows how good Schreiber has been. Overall, the Huskers hit .263 as a team and aren’t terribly dependent on the home run - they have just 22 this season so half their total comes from Scott Schreiber himself (they did, however, just need three homers to stave off Kansas State earlier this week).
All-in-all, this is a series that the Hawks should definitely win. They’ve been able to dispose of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio State in the first three weekend of Big Ten play, all of whom are amongst the Big Ten’s best, so there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to take down a struggling Nebraska team. On the other hand, this same Husker squad was expected to be one of the best teams in the conference, and has a consistently good program, so it also wouldn’t necessarily be a huge surprise if they were able to put together a couple good games this weekend.
How to Catch the Game
This weekend’s first two games games will be available on Hawkeye Radio Network and on BTN Plus. Sunday’s game should be available to watch on ESPNU and streamable on WatchESPN.