Hawkeyes Wrap-up Season in Title Chase

May 16, 2005

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THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes will play their final home game of the 2005 season when they host Illinois-Chicago Wednesday night at Banks Field. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. Iowa will then wrap-up the Big Ten season with a four-game series at Illinois. Friday’s game is set for 6:05 p.m., with a doubleheader to follow at 4:05 p.m. Saturday. The two teams will end the series with a single game Sunday at 1:05 p.m.

HAWKEYES ON THE AIR ? If you can’t make it to the ballpark this week, you can still catch all the Hawkeye action on AM 800 KXIC. Wednesday’s game against Illinois-Chicago, along with the first three games of the Illinois series will be broadcast. The pregame show will begin 30 minutes before the first pitch. Voice of the Hawkeyes Brent Balbinot will call the play-by-play, with Iowa City 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 www.hawkeyesports.com. Just click on the Gametracker link found on both the front page and the baseball schedule page.

TOURNEY TIME ? With its win in game one at Purdue, Iowa clinched a spot in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2002. Before that, the previous time Iowa had earned a berth in the tournament was 1990, the last time the Hawkeyes won a Big Ten Championship.

THE BIG TEN RACE ? With just one weekend of Big Ten action left, four teams remain alive in the conference title chase as Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa have a chance to earn the trophy and the right to host the 2005 Big Ten Tournament. Iowa can still move into first place by sweeping the series and having Purdue and Minnesota each lose one game. Illinois can clinch the title by winning two against Iowa. Purdue and Minnesota each have to win out and get help from the Hawkeyes. The Boilermakers would need Iowa to win 3-of-4, while Minnesota needs the Hawkeyes to get a sweep and Purdue to lose one. In that scenario, Iowa and Minnesota would be Big Ten co-Champions, with the Hawkeyes hosting the Big Ten tournament due to a better head-to-head record.

LOOKING BACK ? The Hawkeyes dropped three-of-four games at Purdue last weekend, falling just percentage points behind the second-place Boilermakers in the standings. Iowa won game one of the series, 10-7 (over the course of two days) then lost 8-7, 4-3 and 10-3.

The Hawkeyes came out blazing in Friday’s game, taking a 10-2 lead before the game was suspended due to heavy thunderstorms. Purdue re-took the momentum on Saturday, scoring five runs before Hawkeye closer Tim Gudex shut the door.

In game two, the Hawkeyes took a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh before Purdue pushed three runs across to take the 8-7 win. The Boilermakers got four hits, a walk and a hit batsman against Gudex, who blew his first save of the year.

In Saturday’s last game, the Boilermakers once again got the win in their final at bat. With the game tied 3-3 and two outs, pinch runner John Phegley scored from first on three wild pitches.

On Sunday, the Boilermakers fed off the momentum of the previous day and handled the Hawkeyes 10-3. Iowa got 11 hits to Purdue’s 13, but the Hawkeye hits never seemed to come at the right time, as Iowa left eight men on base.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS-CHICAGO ? The University of Illinois-Chicago comes into Wednesday’s game with a 33-18-1 record and a 14-6 mark in the Horizon League.

Iowa faced the Flames earlier this year in Florida, with UIC taking a pair of ten-inning games, 2-1 and 5-4.

The Flames’ offense is led by Mark Hallberg, who is hitting .363 with 15 doubles, three home runs and 40 RBIs. The team likes to run, with four players in double-digits in steals. They have attempted 129 steals as a team, succeeding in 88 attempts.

Illinois-Chicago leads the all-time series 6-8.

They are coached by Mike Dee, who is in his seventh season.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS ? The Illinois Fighting Illini are 32-17-1 coming into the week and are on top of the Big Ten Conference with a 19-9 mark. They need two wins this weekend to lock up the title.

The high-octane offense has six players hitting .330 or above, led by Ryan Rowgowski at .377. He also has six triples and 28 stolen bases.

The two big boppers in the Illini lineup are Dusty Bensko and Drew Davidson. Bensko is hitting .343 with 16 home runs and 65 RBIs. Davidson is hitting .330 with 13 dingers and 48 RBIs.

On the hill, Iowa will see Brian Bloomquist (10-2, 2.59 ERA), Jimmy Conroy (7-2, 3.43), Matt Whitemore (4-1, 7.56) and Jake Stewart (2-2, 5.14)

The Fighting Illini lead the all-time series 112-72-2. They are the only team with over 100 wins against the Hawkeyes.

They are coached by Richard “Itch” Jones, who is in his 15th season.

WHITE HOT ? Second baseman Jason White has been on fire lately, and hit .600 during the Purdue series with two doubles, a triple and four RBIs. It raised his average in Big Ten play to .371. White is second on the team with 18 RBIs in conference games.

COX LAUNCHES ANOTHER ? Iowa infielder Andy Cox hit a towering home run in Saturday’s second game, giving him a team-best six on the season. In his first three years at Iowa, Cox had hit just one home run.

HE’S HUMAN AFTER ALL ? Hawkeye closer Tim Gudex blew his first save of the season Saturday in game one of the doubleheader after being forced to finish off Friday’s suspended game earlier in the day.

Gudex allowed three earned runs, raising his ERA from 0.38 to 1.35 in conference play.

O’LOUGHLIN HURTING ? Hawkeye ace Luke O’Loughlin threw just one pitch in the second inning of Friday’s game against Purdue before leaving with an injury. He is listed as day-to-day and his status for this weekend is unknown.

300 CLUB ? As a team, the Hawkeyes are hitting .309 in Big Ten play while holding opposing batters to a .286 average. Overall, Iowa is hitting .294 as a team.

GEELAN GOES DEEP ? Freshman catcher Ben Geelan hit his first home run in a Hawkeye uniform Saturday at Purdue. In limited action this season, Geelan is hitting .375 (6-for-16) with three RBIs.

NAPOLEON KEEPS HITTING ? Hawkeye freshman first baseman Dusty Napoleon bounced back after a down weekend to hit .417 (5-of-12) against Purdue. His average in conference play shot back to .380, best on the team and seventh in the Big Ten.

RUN PRODUCTION ? Hawkeye catcher Kris Welker is third in the Big Ten with 29 RBIs in league play. He is also second with 11 doubles.

Overall, Welker leads the Hawkeyes with 40 RBIs, 14 doubles and 13 hit by pitch.

EXTRA BASES ? Senior infielder Andy Cox has a higher percentage of extra base hits than anyone on the team, with 46% (19 of 41) of his hits going for extra bases.

DON’T STRAY TOO FAR ? Iowa has picked off 19 baserunners so far this season, tops in the Big Ten.

BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE ? Sophomore Jeff “Boomer” Engel is holding on to the leftfield spot, starting five of the last seven games. Engel has delivered, hitting .353 with a pair of RBIs.

BIG TEN HONORS ? The 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. Tim Gudex was named co-Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on April 11 and Big Ten Pitcher of the Week May 10.

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 to ten on May 17. Three finalists will be named on June 1 before the winner is announced at the Greater Wichita Sports Banquet 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.