Before we get into the actual baseball thing, let’s take a moment to talk about what really matters. A major-league mullet. Freshman Ben Wilmes from Johnston, Iowa made an appearance as a pinch runner. He did not have a huge impact on the game between the lines. Outside the lines this dude needs some serious love.
And another look. (See below next to #10 Seegers) My guess is that Hawkeye skipper Rick Heller inserted Wilmes so the fans could get their money’s worth.
Simply glorious. Now, on to baseball. The Hawks edged the Bradley Braves in a road game 9-8 in 11 innings. Iowa improved to 15-10 on the season. The Hawkeyes have won 8 of their last 11 games. The Hawks used 10 pitchers in a non-conference tilt. With the Hawks hosting B1G opponent Illinois this weekend, it was a chance to get innings for everyone (almost) except Iowa’s big three of Ty Langenberg, Adam Mazur, and Dylan Nedved. Iowa’s pitching staff combined for 15 strikeouts on the day. Freshmen Marcus Morgan and Brody Brecht pitched one and two scoreless innings respectively. Brecht struck out all six batters he faced. What?!?!? That’s a bad, bad man, especially since he has been bouncing back-and-forth between hardball and football. Sometime starter Duncan Davitt came in and pitched the last 1 1⁄3 innings for the win. Davitt improved to Offensively the Hawkeyes were led by Andy Nelson (3B) who went 3 for 5 and a walk. Michael Seegers (SS) went 2 for 4 with 3 RBI’s and Sam Petersen (LF) had two hits in five at bats. This squad has some very nice pieces. A mid-week road game where the Hawks trailed by three runs only to win in extras can go a long way in instilling confidence during Big Ten play. Non-conference games are also an excellent opportunity to give some at bats or innings to less-experienced players. The more you watch Heller-coached teams the more you respect what he does with Iowa’s roster and program.
Up Next: Illinois
The Fighting Illini will come to Iowa City with a 13-13 record. More impressively Illinois is 5-1 in the Big Ten tied for first-place with Rutgers. Illinois has split with Michigan State and they swept Purdue recently. The Hawks sit at 2-1 in the B1G. It’s early, but this is huge home series for the Hawkeyes.
Statistically, I like Iowa’s chances. On the year Iowa is slashing (.267/.399/.363). The Fighting Illini come in at (.287/.435/.375). Offensively, on paper, the Illini have the edge. Cam McDonald carries the biggest stick for Illinois. He is hitting .356 with 4 home runs and 29 RBI. Branden Comia is also a tough out. He is batting .336 on the year with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 4 long balls with 26 RBI. Illinois’ batters make contact, striking out 187 times on the year (compared to Iowa’s 245). That leads us to the biggest factor in the game, pitching. Iowa has a marked advantage on the mound. The Hawks have a team ERA of 3.43 while Illinois has a robust (not good when you want a low number!) ERA of 5.94. Defensively both Iowa and Illinois are pretty similar. Whoever gets the ball over the plate and makes batters miss is going to win this weekend. A sweep would be a great springboard for the Hawks. It is a definite possibility. As always, Go Hawks!