After a slow start to the Big Ten season, the Hawks lost a series to both Maryland and Indiana, Rick Heller’s team has settled into playing quality baseball. The Hawkeyes now sit with a record of 37-12 and 13-7 in the Big Ten. Iowa sits behind Indiana and Maryland in the conference standings. After sweeping the Michigan State Spartans 9-0, 8-6, and 5-1, Iowa’s RPI improved nine spots. The Hawkeyes jumped from 39th to 30th.
- Ben Wilmes has flourished with more playing time and batting in the leadoff spot. He had four hits on the weekend. Wilmes is a throw-back ball player. I like what he brings to the table.
- 1B Brennen Dorighi has been a tremendous addition to the program. The Wofford transfer is second on the team in batting average (.355). Dorighi leads the team in runs, hits, home runs, and RBI.
- Iowa’s starting pitching set the tone for the weekend. The Hawks had quality starts Marcus Morgan (4-2), Ty Langenberg (5-3), and Brody Brecht (4-2). Strong starting pitching is more than half the battle on the diamond. The Hawks have struggled with control at times, but for the most part this trio gives the Hawkeyes a chance to win.
- To go along with strong starting pitching, Iowa’s bullpen allowed just four earned runs over the three game series. Jared Simpson and Jack Whitlock each pitched three scoreless innings in relief.
- The Hawkeyes hit six round-trippers against the Spartans.
- On the season the Hawkeyes’ batters are slashing (BA/OBP/SLG) .299/.422/.496
- Iowa was once again without the services of its best position player, Keaton Anthony. Getting him back would be a “boost” heading into the postseason. His absence does create an opportunity for others. The Hawks have gone 5-1 without him in the lineup.
- Iowa’s pitching staff has a team ERA of 4.19; as a contrast Iowa’s opponents’ team ERA is 7.97. The Hawkeyes are allowing a batting average of just .212.
The non-conference game against University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) for Tuesday, May 16th was cancelled. More than likely this was to preserve Iowa’s RPI and pitching staff. The Hawks play Thursday instead of Friday this week.
Iowa travels to Evanston, Illinois, to take on the Northwestern Wildcats for its final regular-season series this weekend. The Wildcats sit in the cellar of the conference. Because of Northwestern’s RPI (267), the Hawks’ RPI will drop even if Iowa wins all three games. Sweeping a conference opponent on the road should not negatively affect a team’s RPI, in my opinion.
Thursday, May 18. 4pm. B1G+
Friday, May 19. 4pm. B1G+
Saturday, May 20. 1pm. B1G+
After this the Hawkeyes will head to Omaha, Nebraska to participate in the Big Ten Tournament. This is an eight-team, double-elimination tournament. The Hawkeyes have fared well in this tournament the past few years. Pitching, pitching, and more pitching is typically the key in this tournament.
Hopefully Iowa can take care of business this weekend as the Hawks have some nice momentum heading into post-season play. As always, it’s great to be a Hawkeye! Go Hawks!