Iowa’s postseason baseball hopes came to an end this past weekend; the Hawks lost 2 of 3 to Northwestern. It became the second series in a row that the Hawkeyes have dropped. Iowa took the Friday night win, 6-1. It was the eighth straight Friday win for the Hawkeyes. Much of this can be credited to Iowa’s ace, redshirt junior lefty Trenton Wallace. Wallace improved his record to 6-1 on the year with an ERA of 2.45. Wallace pitched 6 innings, giving up just 3 hits, 0 earned runs, and striking out 8 batters. Wallace moved into second place all-time on Iowa’s strikeout list. Peyton Williams went 3 for 5 and Austin Martin and Izaya Fullard both went yard. Here’s Martin’s jack.
T5 | @austin_martin34 loves YARD WORK! #Hawkeyes lead 3-0! pic.twitter.com/2MgKwPzHYO— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 21, 2021
Fullard answers that with a blast to left-center. The sound of these blasts is sweet music.
T7 | Patty-BLAST! @IzayaFullard23 connects on his 5th homer of the season to give #Hawkeyes a 4-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/U0y2sshm2f— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 21, 2021
Game 2 was a 5-4 loss for the Hawkeyes. Redshirt junior Cam Baumann got in a groove on the mound and provided a quality performance. Here’s a punch out from Baumann. Wallace and Baumann will provide a nice one-two punch for the Hawkeyes next year.
KKKKKam Baumann has settled in.— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 22, 2021
He's sat down 11 straight Wildcats and has only allowed one baserunner since the first inning.@Cam0_28 | #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/X2jgqLdJAn
Northwestern scored two runs in the 8th inning and that was the difference in the ballgame. A bright spot and good news for the future was that freshman Michael Seegers went 3 for 4 with 2 runs and a double. That bodes well for next season and beyond.
Game three started poorly for the Hawkeyes. Duncan Davitt got knocked around for 4 runs in 1 1⁄3 innings. Developing a third starting pitcher is a big step for next season’s squad. There is a drop off in Iowa’s starting rotation after Wallace and Baumann. Both Davitt and Drew Irvine are just sophomores, so there is plenty of time and room for improvement.
The Hawkeyes have five pitchers signed for next year, including much-hyped Marcus Morgan and Brody Brecht. A bright spot for the Hawkeyes is that they have not committed an error the last four games. The long ball hurt the Hawks, but it is less frustrating losing that way than kicking and throwing the ball around the diamond.
At the Division I level all games are important. At any level games are important. That said, I’d love to see some of Iowa’s youngsters get some at bats, innings pitched, and/or opportunities in the field to springboard into next season. A three-game series would allow a little bit of tinkering with things while still allowing Iowa’s seniors to go out playing some ball.
Friday, May 28. 5:35pm B1G+
Saturday, May 29 3:05pm B1G Network
Sunday, May 30. 12:05pm B1G+
Michigan State Batters
Michigan State’s batters don’t strike fear in the hearts of opposing pitchers. As a team their batting average is .259 (Hawks’ is .260) but their slugging percentage is a paltry .368 (compared to Iowa’s .417). Iowa has almost doubled the Spartans in the home run department (36/20). Sparty’s best hitter is outfielder Zaid Walker. Walker is hitting at a .312 clip and slugging .433. Infielder Trent Farquhar is slashing (.281/.396/.388) - batting average, on base percentage, slugging percentage. Joe Stewart (OF/1B) provides some pop from the right side (.278/.342/.444). Finally, Bailey Peterson leads the Spartans with six homers on the year. This is a lineup that Iowa’s pitchers should go after. Get the ball over the plate and see what MSU can do with it.
Michigan State Pitchers
Michigan State has two solid starting pitchers. Mason Eria is their number one guy with a 5-5 record and a 3.42 ERA. Eria has good control and strikes out one batter per inning. After him Nick Powers has been solid. He is 4-2 on the year with an ERA of 4.87. After these two the Spartans are searching for answers. Their third starting pitcher, Sam Benschoter, has an ERA of 6.42. Michigan State’s closer, Zach Iverson, has a balloon-like ERA of 7.45 this year.
The Hawkeyes have dropped the last two series to lesser opponents. Illinois and Northwestern didn’t look like much of a threat on paper. The game is played between the lines, however. Coach Rick Heller’s Hawks need to take another Friday game and use the momentum of that to take two more games Saturday and Sunday. As I said earlier it would be great to see some inexperienced players to get some looks this weekend as a preview to next year. As always, Go Hawks!