Coach Rick Heller’s Iowa City 9 has won five of its last six games and sits at 9-9 on the year after taking two out of three last weekend against our most hated rivals in West Lafayette. That puts the Hawks in the middle of the Big Ten standings. The Gophers (4-14) are in last place in the conference and have yet to win a weekend series this season. The Gophers come to Iowa City for a weekend series that could go a long way in moving the Hawks up in the standings.
Key Players for the .500 Hawks
Ben Norman CF (RS Jr) Des Moines Roosevelt
.303 batting average/.413 on base percentage/.652 slugging percentage 6 HR 6 SB
Norman leads the Hawks with 4 2-hit games and 3 2-hit games.
Matthew Sosa 3B (RS Sr) Whittier, CA
.254/.367/.373 5 Doubles 11 RBI
Sosa is second on the team in multiple hit games. He has 3 2-hit games and 1 3-hit game.
Peyton Williams 1B (RS Fr) Johnston, IA
.298/.450/.681 4 HR 6 Doubles
Williams is the Hawkeyes’ leader in multiple-RBI games with 5. He also currently has reached base in 9 consecutive games.
Trenton Wallace LHP (RS Jr) Davenport Assumption
2-1 record 2.28 ERA 40K (27.2 innings)
Wallace is Iowa’s top starting pitcher. In 5 starts he is allowing a batting average of just .151.
Cam Baumann RHP (RS Jr) Fairfield, IA
1-2 record 3.63 ERA 7 BB (22.1 innings)
Baumann has been Iowa’s number two starter. He has pretty good control and allows a batting average of .209.
Dylan Nedved RHP/SS (RS Jr) Shawnee, KS
1.76 ERA 4 saves .176 batting average against
Nedved has been Iowa’s closer. He also has started 10 games at shortstop and is slugging .327.
Minnesota Gophers visit Iowa City this Weekend
Historically the Minnesota Gophers have been a stalwart atop the Big Ten standings. The Gophs have claimed 24 Big Ten championships, including 2 of the last 4. Iowa has won the Big Ten 7 times; the last time was 1974. Yikes. The Gophers are down this year. One reason for this is their junior right handed pitcher Max Meyer was selected 3rd overall in the 2020 MLB draft. Minnesota boasts nine first-round MLB draft pics, most of any Big Ten school. Ok, enough Gopher love. That makes me a little queasy. The Gophers are down. It is a tremendous opportunity for the Hawkeyes to win or even sweep the series. Here’s a look at some of the key Rodents.
The player that gets everything rolling for Minnesota is second baseman Zack Raabe. He has been tabbed as the #148 ranked overall prospect for the MLB 2021 draft. In 2020 he was named an All-American and he was the NCAA Division I hits leader. Raabe’s slash (Batting Average/On Base Percentage/Slugging Percentage) is a pretty astonishing at .431/.529/.741. If the Hawk pitchers can keep him off the base paths that will go a long way to slowing down the Gophers’ offense. Raabe has some pop with 4 homers on the year. Another potent bat for the Gophers is catcher Chase Stanke. Stanke is slashing .300/.391/.
Minnesota has a nice 1, 2, 3 for their starting pitchers. Sam Ireland, Jack Liffrig, and Trent Schoeberl have been solid to dominating at times this year.
Keys to the Series
The Hawkeyes need to get some home field advantage going having some fans back in the stadium. It would be a fantastic sweep if they could pull it off, but a series win is a must. The Gophers can put the ball in play. They have excellent hitters. They have very good starting pitching. Where the Gophers have struggled is in the bullpen. Minnesota relievers have struggled finding the plate and when they do they give up a plethora of hits and runs. If the Hawks can get solid pitching and get to the Gophers’ bullpen, a sweep is a possibility. Go Hawks!