Iowa Ready For Northwestern

April 28, 2005


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THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes head to Evanston, IL, this weekend for a four-game series with Big Ten rival Northwestern. Friday’s game will begin at 3 p.m., while Saturday’s doubleheader will start at 1 p.m. The Hawkeyes and Wildcats will wrap up the series with a 1 p.m. game Sunday.

HAWKEYES ON THE AIR ? If you can’t make the road trip to Evanston this weekend, you can still catch all the Hawkeye action on AM 800 KXIC. Friday’s game, along with Saturday’s doubleheader be broadcast. The pregame show will begin 30 minutes before first pitch. Voice of the Hawkeyes Brent Balbinot will call the play-by-play, with West High assistant baseball coach Tom Cronk supplying color commentary.

HAWKEYES ON THE NET ? Iowa baseball fans can follow the Hawkeyes this week, as live stats will be available on Just click on the Gametracker link found on both the front page and the baseball schedule page.

LOOKING BACK ? The Hawkeyes dropped both midweek games, falling to UNI 8-6 at the Corridor Classic, then losing a 4-1 home contest against Western Illinois.

On Tuesday, Iowa out-hit Northern Iowa 9-8 in the loss, with Kris Welker and Dusty Napoleon collecting two hits each to lead the Hawkeye offense.

Iowa hurler Jeff Maitland started his second game of the season. The junior lefthander threw 2 2/3 innings, allowed two earned runs, yielded six hits and struck out four. The Panthers’ Mark Bennett pitched 3 2/3 innings in collecting his second victory.

On Wednesday against Western Illinois, the Hawkeyes had a disastrous first inning in the field, committing three errors, hitting two batsmen and letting a pair of unearned runs cross the plate.

While the defense struggled early, the Iowa bats went silent. Welker picked up the first Hawkeye hit with two outs in the bottom of the fourth. Meanwhile, Western Illinois picked up insurance runs in the fifth and sixth with an RBI single and a sacrifice fly.

Iowa got on the board in the bottom of the seventh when Jeff Engel ripped a triple to the base of the wall in right-centerfield. Welker then beat out a bounding ball to first, getting his second hit and plating Engel.

OFF TO A GREAT START ? After four weeks of Big Ten play, the Hawkeyes are 11-5 and off to their best conference start since 1990, when Iowa started 13-2 and went on to win the Big Ten Championship.

The Hawkeyes are just one game out of first place, behind conference leaders Minnesota and Illinois.

STOP IT BEFORE IT STARTS ? Tuesday and Wednesday’s defeats were the first time the Hawkeyes lost back-to-back games since April 1. Since then, Iowa had won 14-of-19, including a seven-game winning streak.

The 19-game stretch without two-straight losses is the longest such streak since 1990, when Iowa went 32 games without back-to-back defeats.

THREE IN A ROW ? Iowa’s series win over Penn State was also its third-straight in Big Ten play. The last time Iowa did that was in 1990, when the Hawkeyes won five consecutive Big Ten series en-route to winning the Big Ten Championship.

SCOUTING NORTHWESTERN ? The Northwestern Wildcats come into the weekend with an 18-17 overall record and a 7-9 mark in the Big Ten.

The Wildcat offense is led by Pat McMahon, who is hitting a Big Ten-leading .435 with four home runs and 20 RBIs. The power source is Anthony Wycklendt, who has seven home runs and 32 RBIs to go with his .333 average. On the basepaths, watch out for Aaron Newman, who has stolen 14 bases on the year.

The Hawkeyes can expect to see Evan Blesoff (3-4, 4.78), Andrew Smith (2-4, 4.23), George Kontos (3-3, 3.42) and Ryan Myers (3-4, 5.88) on the hill for Northwestern this weekend.

Iowa leads the all-time series 120-86-2 and split a four-game series last season.

They are coached by Paul Stevens, who is in his 18th year.

SUCCESS AGAINST NORTHWESTERN ? Iowa’s 120 wins over Northwestern is more than they have over any other team.

MIMS BACK ? The Hawkeyes re-gained the services of centerfielder L.J. Mims Wednesday night, when the junior entered the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the sixth. He stayed in to play centerfield and ended up going 1-for-2.

Mims, who had his arm broken by a pitch March 25 against Wichita State, wasn’t expected to be back for another week or so. It is unknown when he will re-join the lineup.

GUDEX STRIKES AGAIN ? Iowa closer Tim Gudex picked up his team-best sixth win last Saturday afternoon while closing out Iowa’s 6-5 win, which had been suspended the night before. His record is now 6-3 with four saves.

In Big Ten play, the junior has been nothing short of dominant, going 4-0 with a 0.61 ERA and four saves. He leads the conference in both wins (4) and saves (4) in Big Ten play.

LOOKING FOR A SPARK ? Iowa freshman Andrew Sparks made his debut on the mound Wednesday night when he came in to pitch the sixth inning. The Kirksville, MO, native looked solid, not giving up a hit and surrendering just one run on a sacrifice fly.

MAITLAND SOLID AGAIN ? In his second start back from an elbow injury that kept him sidelined for a year and a half, Jeff Maitland had another good outing. The senior started the Corridor Classic against UNI and gave up just a pair of earned runs in two and two-thirds innings while striking out four. He will be on the team’s 25-man travel roster this weekend at Northwestern.

NAPOLEON’S STREAK SNAPPED ? Freshman Dusty Napoleon had his 16-game hitting streak snapped last Saturday in game one of the doubleheader with Penn State. He was 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. Nate Price had the season’s longest hitting streak when he hit safely in 19 games.

TRIPLE PLAY ? Hawkeye senior Andy Cox ripped a pair of triples over the weekend. The senior’s extra base hits seem to come in bunches, as his four home runs also came in one weekend.

STEALING HOME ? The Hawkeyes pulled off a double steal against Penn State Sunday, during which senior Justin Petty became the first Hawkeye to steal home this season.

BRINGING `EM HOME ? Kris Welker is second in the Big Ten with 20 RBIs in conference play. A good reason is the fact that he is hitting .500 (11 for 22) with runners in scoring position. Welker also leads the conference in hit by pitch with 12. He is just five shy of the single-season record, which he set last year.

BIG TEN HONORS ? A pair of Hawkeyes have had two players earn Big Ten weekly honors this season. Andy Cox was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week on March 15, while Tim Gudex was named co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on April 11.

WELKER ON BENCH AWARD WATCH LIST ? Iowa catcher Kris Welker has been named to the 2005 Johnny Bench Award watch list. The Johnny Bench Award is given annually to the top collegiate catcher.

Thirty-seven catchers from 16 different conferences were nominated for the award by their coaches. The list will be narrowed down to ten on May 17, and three finalists will be named on June 1 before the winner is announced at the Greater Wichita Sports Banquet on June 29.

HAWKEYE SIGN FOUR FOR 2006 ? After a banner recruiting year in 2004, the Hawkeyes kept the ball rolling by signing four prep standouts to National Letters of Intent this spring. Jordan Auerbach, Wes Freie, Ryan Gryzwa and Kevin Hoef all signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Iowa this fall.

HOMEGROWN HAWKEYES ? Twenty-two of the 41 players on the 2005 Hawkeye team are native Iowans. The next closest state is Illinois, with seven.

THE ASSISTANT COACHES ? Head Coach Jack Dahm will be assisted by batting coach Ryan Brownlee and pitching coach Nick Zumsande, along with volunteer assistant coach Grady Symonds and undergraduate assistant Chris Maliszewski.

Brownlee, who also serves as the teams recruiting coordinator, is in charge of the Hawkeye hitters and infield play. Before coming to Iowa, Brownlee was an assistant at James Madison for four years. His father, James, is the head coach at Illinois State

Zumsande enters his second year as the Iowa pitching coach. Before joining the Black and Gold, he was an assistant at Indiana State and Iowa State, while serving as the head coach at Muscatine Community College.

Symonds is in his first year with the Hawkeyes after working for his father, Bob, at Triton Junior College. He will be Iowa’s first base coach.

Maliszewski will make the transfer to the coaching ranks after pitching for the Hawkeyes for four years. He will serve as the team’s bullpen coach and assist with the pitching staff.