Hawkeyes To Play Four Games This Week

March 22, 2004

The Iowa baseball team will play its home opener against Western Illinois on Tuesday at Duane Banks Field beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is $3.

This weekend, the Hawkeyes will head to Des Moines, IA, for the Iowa Cubs/Hawkeye Classic at Sec Taylor Stadium. The four-team tournament will feature Iowa, Minnesota, Northern Illinois and Northern Colorado. Admission is $4 for adults and $2 children (13 and under) are available to be purchased at the Iowa Cubs ticket office or by phone (1-800-GO-ICUBS). Gates will open one hour prior to the first game each day. UI students can get into the games for free with a student ID and I-Club members will receive $2 off admission with a membership card. The schedule for the weekend is as follows:

Friday, March 26 2 p.m. Minnesota vs. Northern Illinois 5 p.m. Northern Colorado vs. Iowa

Saturday, March 27 11 a.m. Northern Illinois vs. Northern Colorado 2 p.m. Minnesota vs. Iowa

Sunday, March 28 11 a.m. Minnesota vs. Northern Colorado 2 p.m. Northern Illinois vs. Iowa

Fans can follow the University of Iowa baseball team live via live stats on www.hawkeyesports.com.

Fans wanting to listen to the live radio broadcast of Iowa baseball games can tune into KXIC (AM 800). Brent Balbinot will handle the play-by-play action for every game. Former Hawkeyes Brian Bucklin and Kurt Vitense will serve as the color commentators against Western Illinois and the Iowa Cubs/Hawkeye Classic.

The Hawkeyes went 4-4 on their eight-game road trip to the sunny skies of Florida. Iowa opened with a split with Maine. Iowa was victorious in the first game (5-3) and lost a 3-2 decision in the bottom of the ninth in the second game.

Iowa rebounded from its defeat to hault Stetson’s seven-game winning streak. Iowa jumped out to an early 9-0 lead and held on for a 9-7 victory. The Hawkeyes lost a heartbreaker in their first game in Bradenton, FL, at the IMG Academy to Massachusetts. Clinging to a one-run lead heading into the ninth inning, the Minutemen rallied to tie the game at two and scored two runs in the 10th to defeat Iowa (4-2).

On March 18, Iowa defeated Bucknell (9-3) behind the hot bat of Mike Best. The senior first baseman went 4-for-5 in the contest including a two-run homerun. Nathan Johnson picked up the win after striking out nine batters in seven innings. Later on the 18th, the Hawkeyes’ late inning rally fell short against Miami (OH) as they fell 6-5 to the Redhawks.

Iowa rounded out the roadtrip by defeating Dartmouth and falling to Army. Shortstop Jeff Gremley led the Hawkeyes to a 4-3 win after driving in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning. In the finale against the Black Knights, Iowa fell 6-2. Army used a strong outing by freshman Nick Hill to silence the Hawkeye bats.

Iowa first baseman Mike Best’s bat caught a hot streak during the trip to Florida as he hit safely in the first six games to extend his hitting streak to seven games. Best batted .394 (13-33) with 18 total bases in the eight games with a .545 slugging percentage and a .412 on-base percentage. The senior’s best game came in the 9-3 win over Bucknell, when he went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and scored three runs.

On the season, Best is batting .364 with three doubles. He has swiped three bases and leads the team with a .440 on base percentage.

Starter Nathan Johnson led the Hawkeyes to two victories after having solid outings in wins over Maine and Bucknell. In the opening game of the trip, the right hander struck out six batters in six innings and allowed one earned run to defeat the Black Bears, 5-3. Against the Bison, Johnson pitched seven innings of six-hit ball in the 9-3 win. Johnson had a season-high nine strikeouts and zero walks in the game.

On the season, Johnson has pitched in 22 1/3 innings and has a 2-1 record. He has a 4.43 ERA and has struck out a team-high 19 batters.

The Iowa baseball team has been active on the base paths this season. as they have swiped 27-of-37 (.730) bases. Jeff Gremley leads the team and is tied for second in the conference with seven steals. Three other Hawkeyes have stolen at least four bases; Nate Yoho (5-of-7), Mike Mogard (4-of-4) and L.J. Mims (4-of-5).

Mike Best his hitting a staggering .667 (8-for-12) this season with runners in scoring position. He also has an indentical batting average of .364 against right and left handed pitchers.

Sophomore Tim Gudex has proved to be Iowa’s best reliever out of the pen this season. The southpaw recorded three saves on the Florida trip, which is tied for the conference lead.

In his first two appearances of the trip, Gudex pitched six innings of two hit ball and had four strikeouts to earn his first two saves. Against Dartmouth, he pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed three hits for save number three.

On the year, Gudex is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 12 innings of work. He has struck out eight batters, which is fourth best among Hawkeye hurlers.

Hawkeye catcher Kris Welker tied an Iowa record twice in a matter of three games in Florida. Against Maine on Mar. 13, Welker was hit by Black Bear pitcher Greg Norton on his first two at-bats of the game to tie an Iowa record for HBP in a game. Welker tied the record again two games later in the contest against Stetson. Welker leads the Big Ten in the category as he has been plunked eight times this year. Welker is half way to the season record of 16 HBP, which was set by former Hawkeye Ian Mattice in 2002.

Iowa holds a 55-20-2 record over the Leathernecks in 79 meetings in the all-time series. The Hawkeyes have won the last six meetings including a 9-8 victory last season. During the streak, Iowa has outscored Western Illinois, 68-23.

The Leathernecks (9-16) head into the series on a five-game skid after dropping three games to Kansas State last weekend.

Dane Ainsworth and Kyle Malan lead the team offensively. Ainsworth leads the team with a .387 average, while Malan has a .358 mark with eight doubles, two homers, one triple and 13 RBIs.

Patrick Kohorst will take the ball against Iowa. The RHP enters the game with a 1-3 record and a 3.15 ERA. Kohorst has struck out 22 batters in 20 innings this year.

Western Illinois is led by third-year Head Coach Stan Hyman.

Kevin Sunderman was named the Big Ten Player of the Week on Mar. 2, after opening his Hawkeye career with a bang in the three-game series against Centenary College. Sunderman, who started all three games at third base, finished the series with a .700 (7-10) batting average, seven RBIs, three doubles and two walks.

The game that was scheduled on May 4 between Iowa and Bradley in Iowa City has been cancelled. The University of Iowa prohibits all teams from playing schools with a Native American mascot aside from the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Jack Dahm enters his first season as Iowa’s head baseball coach and has a 283-276 career record. Prior to coming to Iowa, Dahm spent 10 years as the Head Coach at Creighton University, where he is the school’s all-time winningest coach. Dahm also played for four years for the Bluejays under current Chicago Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry.

Assistant Coach Nick Zumsande is in his first season as Iowa’s pitching coach after collecting 14 years of coaching experience throughout the Midwest. Prior to joining the Hawkeyes, Zumsande served as the pitching coach for Indiana State. Before joining the Sycamores, Zumsande coached for one year at Iowa State University where he helped lead the team to their first Big 12 Tournament appearance in school history.

Assistant Coach Ryan Brownlee is in his first season as Iowa’s hitting/fielding instructor and recruiting coordinator. Prior to coming to Iowa, Brownlee was the hitting/fielding coach at James Madison University, where he led the Dukes to school records in fielding percentage. Before going to JMU, Brownlee served as an assistant at his alma mater, Evansville.

Volunteer Assistant Coach Spencer Allen is in his first season with the Hawkeyes. Allen will coach first base during game days and is responsible for outfield instruction. Allen earned his B.A. in 2001 from Iowa State, where he was a three-year starter at second base.

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