A week removed from their series win over ranked Oklahoma State, Rick Heller’s Iowa baseball squad is in Evanston, Illinois for a weekend series against the Northwestern Wildcats.
It should — keyword here is should — be an easy weekend for the Hawkeyes (28-16, 9-7 Big Ten) against the Wildcats, who are...well, let’s just say it: they’re really bad. Northwestern has a 14-28 overall record, and a 4-17 conference record. They are, however, 5-5 over their last 10 games, but got swept last weekend against Purdue. They’re ranked 12th in the conference behind only last place Penn State (am I the only person who just discovered right now that Wisconsin doesn’t have a baseball program?), so losing more than one of these games would be really bad.
However, given the explosive offensive performances of this team as of late, hopefully that won’t be an issue. I don’t want to say that losing to Northwestern would take the team out of NCAA contention, but it certainly wouldn’t help.
Speaking of the NCAA tournament...
#Hawkeyes heading to Oxford in latest Baseball America projections. https://t.co/3eRpDtk9us— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 9, 2018
https://t.co/jRXhmmHGd9 has the #Hawkeyes traveling to Chapel Hill. https://t.co/SA8Ss7OpNF— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 9, 2018
The Hawks are being mentioned for possible NCAA Tournament sites! Baseball America currently has the Hawks headed to Oxford, while D1Baseball.com has them headed to Chapel Hill. Just goes to show: good things happen when you beat ranked teams and play your best baseball late in the season. Let’s hope nothing happens this weekend to put that in jeopardy.
Friday: 3:30 p.m. CST (BTN Plus)
Pitchers: LHP Nick Allgeyer (5-4, 2.71 ERA) vs. NU’s Quinn Lavelle (3-5, 4.73 ERA)
Saturday: 2 p.m. CST (BTN Plus)
Probables: TBA vs. NU’s RHP Hank Christie (2-5, 5.40 ERA)
Sunday: 2 p.m. CST (BTN)
Probables: LHP Jack Dreyer (3-2, 4.79 ERA) vs. NU TBA
Like I said, this team is bad. Second to last in the Big Ten. Three of those wins came two weeks ago against Penn State, if that’s any indication of the quality of their wins. The team is 3-10 at home on the year. They’re batting .244 as a team, and only have one hitter — Jack Dunn at .317 — batting above .300. Iowa’s Robert Neustrom, meanwhile, is batting .476 on the year.
The other stats are not good for the Wildcats, either. Only 22 home runs on the year, only one pitcher with an ERA below 3 (two if you count one that has a 0 ERA because he’s pitched once), and only one who is just barely below 4. Take a deeper look at that stat sheet if you want. I won’t bore you with more of the details, but it’s not pretty anywhere. Iowa should have no trouble here, especially if the high octane offense continues.
Two wins this weekend would get the team to 30 wins for the fifth straight season under head coach Rick Heller. That’s an impressive feat, particularly this year given how the season started. This should hopefully be a good tune-up series as the postseason looms closer.