The Iowa Hawkeyes baseball team (21-14) sits in 4th place in the B1G standings behind Indiana, Nebraska, and Michigan. The Hawks took the first two games against Penn State last weekend, losing the series finale. Eighth-place Illinois comes to Duane Banks Field this weekend for a three game series.
Hawks vs Penn State
Game 1: Trenton Wallace paced the Hawks on the mound going 5 innings, allowing 2 earned runs, and striking out 10 batters. Senior Trace Hoffman provided three excellent shutout innings in relief, striking out 3. Dylan Nedved picked up his eighth save, striking out 2. Solid pitching was needed after last week’s series against first-place Indiana. Offensively, Ben Norman went 2-4 with 2 RBI, Izaya Fullard stayed hot, going 2-4 with a Big Fly, and Zeb Adreon also hit a long ball and went 2-3 on the day. Peyton Williams returned from an injury. He played DH and went 0-3. It will be nice to get his bat going again, so it’s a positive sign to see him back in the lineup. Highlights from game one.
Hawkeye highlights from today's first game! pic.twitter.com/ivuPM0VVyD— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 8, 2021
Game 2: The Hawks took game two of the series 5-3 over the Nittany Lions. Ben Norman went 2-5 with 1 RBI and catcher Austin Martin went 2-5 with an RBI of his own. Duncan Davitt (4-1) got the win, allowing 1 earned run in 5 innings, striking out 5 batters. Freshman pitcher Jacob Henderson threw one shutout inning in relief, and Grant Leonard came in to shut the door; he picked up his first save, striking out the side in the ninth. Here is Leonard setting the Nittany Lions down with emphasis!
Can we talk about @GrantLeonard15's ninth inning?!— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 8, 2021
He needed only 10 pitches to strike out the side. #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/phs8KsgAzj
Game 3: The Hawks rallied against the Nittany Lions, scoring 3 runs in the bottom of the ninth. Iowa shortstop Brendan Sher was thrown out at the plate in what would have been the tying run. It was a close play. In hindsight you don’t send the runner. It took a nice play to get Sher out. Offensively the Hawkeyes were led by Izaya Fullard (2-5 w/ 2 RBI). Cam Baumann (4-4) took the loss on the mound.
Illinois Comes to Iowa City
This weekend’s series with the Fighting Illini will play out as follows:
Friday, May 14 6pm B1G+
Saturday, May 15 2pm B1G+
Sunday, May 16 1pm B1G+
If you are able to attend, the Hawks could use some fans in the stands. Iowa has won six of the last seven series and 17 of its last 23 games.
The Fighting Illini’s ace is 6’5” junior Andrew Hoffman. He comes in at 2-0 with an ERA of 3.27. He has good strikeout numbers and very good control. After Hoffman there is a drop off. Nathan Lavender is 5-2 but has an ERA of 4.79. He has benefited from excellent run support this year. The third starter for Illinois is Riley Gowens. He is 1-3 with a hefty ERA of 5.59. Illinois does not have much of a bullpen, and they have only five saves as a team. They have two players with two saves; the ERA’s of these players sit at 5.61 and 9.92 (Yikes!) The Hawks can tack some runs on in the late innings against this bullpen.
The Fighting Illini can put the ball in play. They have four batters who are hitting .300 or better. The Hawkeyes are coming off a strong series throwing the ball against Penn State. That will again be needed to win the series against Illinois. Infielder Justin Janas is hitting a blistering .361 on the year, while fellow infielder Branden Comia is hitting .339. The pop in the Illinois lineup comes from Jackson Raper. He is slashing (BA/OBP/SLG) .317/.426/.634). That’s an impressive hitter.
- Stay hot, Izaya Fullard! On April 4 Fullard was slashing .218/.328/.291. Fullard is now at .323/.411/.480.
- Peyton Williams played some DH and was replaced by a pinch runner against Penn State. It will be huge to get him back in the swing of things, literally and figuratively.
- Iowa is getting some nice starting pitching, especially from ace Trenton Wallace. He is 5-1 with an ERA of 2.83. Getting a sweep is a very challenging thing at the college level; heck, at any level. Iowa needs to get three solid starts from its pitchers. A team can come back against the Illini bullpen, but when you’re aiming for the postseason, we don’t want to count on that.
- Iowa has been effective stealing bases. More small ball in order? The Hawks have stolen 34 bases out of 40 attempts (85%). Ben Norman is 11-11 and Dylan Nedved is 4-4. Manufacturing runs is a lost art in baseball.