On the heels of a series split with Nebraska last weekend and a 2-0 victory against Northern Illinois this week, the Hawkeyes are about to head up north to Gopher Country to take on our good pals at University of Minnesota in a three-game series this weekend. This will start a span of games where the Hawks will take on Minnesota (second in Big Ten), Michigan (first in the conference) and Missouri (recently added to the schedule and 26-12 this year!) in the next couple weeks. It’s gonna be a doozy.
Thanks to inclement weather (they got a whole lot of snow north of the border last weekend), the series is actually going to kick off at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins, before heading over to the Gophers’ actual home field, Siebert Field, for Sunday’s contest. If you’re in that area and want to catch the Hawks play in a Major League ballpark this weekend, here’s your chance.
Friday: 4:00 p.m. CT (Target Field)
Probables: LHP Nick Allgeyer (4-3, 2.05 ERA) vs. RHP Reggie Meyer (3-2, 3.58 ERA)
Saturday: 2:00 p.m. CT (Target Field)
Probables: RHP Brady Schanuel (5-4, 4.72 ERA) vs. RHP Patrick Fredrickson (4-0, 1.96 ERA)
Sunday: 1:00 p.m. CT (Siebert Field)
Probables: RHP Cole McDonald (2-1, 3.19 ERA) vs. RHP Sam Thoresen (1-1, 5.09 ERA)
Previewing the Gophers
If you follow college baseball at all, you might’ve heard the rumors that the Gophers are actually good! Well, the rumors are correct because folks, they’re ranked #25 in the country per D1baseball.com and have an RPI of 37. As mentioned at the top of the article, they’re second in the Big Ten with a 7-1 record (and are 23-10 overall). They’ve had to deal with this bad weather quite a bit as of late, as they’ve had six total games against pretty solid competition postponed or cancelled altogether, but that hasn’t stopped them from getting in a groove - they’re winners of seven straight and have scored 65 RUNS IN THEIR LAST FOUR GAMES.
The Gophers are both quite adept on the mound and at the plate this season. As a pitching staff, they own a 3.65 ERA and opposing batters hit just .234 against them this season. Patrick Fredrickson leads their starters with his 1.96 ERA, but their bullpen might be even better - Brett Schulze, Max Meyer, and Jackson Rose have combined for 39 appearances and boast ERAs of 1.95, 2.18, and 2.20, respectively. Add in starter Reggie Meyer and his 3.58 ERA and these guys should put the Hawkeye hitters in fits all series. If Iowa wants any chance at breaking through, they’re going to have to hit the ball - the Gophers don’t walk a lot of batters, walking just over one every three innings.
At the plate, they hit .311, have a team OBP of .409, and score 7.7 runs per game. They’re led at the dish by Terrin Vavra and Ben Mezzenga, both of whom are hitting .400 or better. Vavra is tied for the team lead with four home runs and leads the Gophers with 33 RBI, while Mezzenga is much more of a contact hitter - of his 40 hits, only five have gone for extra bases. Iowa’s staff is going to have their hands full and can’t afford to make mistakes - namely, they need to cut down on the walks that plagued them in their last game against Nebraska if they want to have a chance here.
How to Watch
Friday and Saturday’s contests will be streamable on BTN+, while Sunday’s game will be available to watch on Big Ten Network. As in, on the TV. You can also listen to the games where Hawkeye Radio Network is available.