Hawkeyes Ready For the Big Ten

March 28, 2006

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THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes will play four home games this week, including their first Big Ten series of the year. Iowa’s midweek tilt will be a Wednesday game against Illinois State starting at 6 p.m. The Hawkeyes will then open the 2006 Big Ten season against Ohio State. Friday’s game will begin at 6 p.m., while Saturday’s doubleheader starts at 2 p.m. First pitch for Sunday’s series finale is set for 1 p.m.

HAWKEYES ON THE AIR ? If you can’t make it out to the ballpark this week, you can still catch all the Hawkeye action on AM 800 KXIC. Voice of the Hawkeyes Brent Balbinot will call the play-by-play, with former Hawkeyes Troy Wulf and Kurt Vitense supplying color commentary.

HAWKEYES ON THE NET ? Iowa baseball fans can follow the Hawkeyes this weekend, 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.

LAST TIME OUT ? Iowa won a pair of games in a three-game series with IPFW last weekend. The Hawkeyes won game one 5-1, then fell 1-0 in a ten-inning pitcher’s dual. Iowa then took Sunday’s rubber match 11-1.

Wes Freie plated the Hawkeyes’ first run in game one when he doubled home Travis Sweet with two outs in the bottom of the first. Iowa tallied two more runs in the bottom of the second, again with two outs.

IPFW cut the three-run deficit to two after an RBI double in the top of the fourth. The Mastodons threatened in the fifth and seventh innings, but came away empty.

Iowa added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth on RBI singles by Dusty Napoleon and Kevin Hoef. Maitland struck out seven batters, scattered six hits and allowed only one unearned run in seven innings en route to his second victory of the year.

Game two was a pitchers-dual between Iowa’s Luke O’Loughlin and IPFW’s Cole Uebelhor. Both starters yielded only two hits each through seven innings. The Mastodons scored the only run in the top of the tenth. With runners on the corners and two outs, Brent Doty scored from third when Sweet bobbled a ground ball on the right side. IPFW recorded a game-ending double play in the tenth to end the game.

Uebelhor pitched all 10 innings for the Mastodons, striking out four and allowing only four hits.

Leading 2-1 in Sunday’s game, the Iowa offense exploded in the bottom in the fifth for five runs to take a commanding six-run lead. Jason White led off with a walk, then stole second. Ryan Gryzwa walked, and Nate Price brought home the first run of the inning with a shot to the warning track in right-centerfield. Sweet ripped a two-run single up the middle to extend the lead to 5-1. Freie had an RBI single and Jeff Engel had a sacrifice fly to center to end the scoring.

The Hawkeyes picked up right where they left off in the following inning, posting four more runs on four hits and an IPFW error. Price and Napoleon each had an RBI in the inning, while Freie knocked in a pair to stretch the lead to 11-1.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS STATE ? The Illinois State Redbirds are 6-14 on the year. The Hawkeyes and Redbirds have played once this season, with Iowa winning a 10-0 game at the Austin Peay Tournament.

Illinois State is led by junior infielder Jesse Griswold, who is hitting .348 with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Junior Kyle O’Brien is hitting .327 with two home runs and a team-best 13 RBIs.

On the mound, the Hawkeyes will see Luke Baughman, who is 0-2 with a 8.55 ERA. He has eight strikeouts and 14 walks in 20 innings of work.

Illinois State is coached by Jim Brownlee, who is in his fourth season with the Redbirds. He is the father of Iowa assistant coach Ryan Brownlee.

The all-time series is tied at 6-6.

SCOUTING OHIO STATE ? The Ohio State Buckeyes come into the week with an 11-5 record. They will take on Toledo Wednesday before making the trip to Iowa City.

The Buckeyes are by far the best hitting team in the Big Ten with a .352 average, 32 points ahead of the second place team. Three Buckeyes hold the top three batting averages in the Big Ten this year, led by Matt Angle at .446. He also has 12 RBIs and nine stolen bases. Ronnie Bourqin (.443) and Jacob Howell (.433) are No. 2 and No. 3 in the conference. The Buckeye power source is Eric Fryer, who is hitting .351 with two home runs and 23 RBIs.

Ohio State is strong on the hill too, leading the Big Ten with a 3.66 ERA. Iowa should expect to see Big Ten ERA leader J.B. Shuck (3-0. 0.86 ERA), along with Cory Luebke (2-2, 2.96) and Dan DeLucia (3-1, 3.68). The Buckeyes’ fourth starter is up in the air.

Iowa owns a 68-56-1 advantage in the series with Ohio State, but the two teams haven’t played since 2003, when the Buckeyes swept a four-game series.

Ohio State is coached by Bob Todd, who is in his 19th year.

STARTING STRONG ? The Hawkeyes record of 10-7 is the team’s best start since 1996, when the team also started 10-7.

BIG TEN DEBUTS ? The last time Iowa won its opening Big Ten series was 1998, when the Hawkeyes took 3-of-4 games from Michigan State. Last year, Iowa split four games with the Spartans in its Big Ten opener.

GREAT WEEKEND ? The Hawkeye pitching staff was outstanding last weekend, allowing just one earned run (three total) in 28 innings of work against IPFW.

GUDEX POSTING GOOSEGGS? Hawkeye closer Tim Gudex has been dominant all season, and sports a perfect 0.00 ERA in 10 appearances. He has 14 strikeouts and just three walks in 11 1/3 innings pitched, and opponents are hitting just .088 off him.

In ten Iowa wins this year, Gudex has recorded a win or a save in seven contests (three wins, four saves). He currently leads the Big Ten in saves and is tied for the lead in wins.

ROUGH LUCK ? Hawkeye junior Scott Brune has been a lot better out of the bullpen this season than his 0-2 record suggests. Brune has been on the wrong end of some tough-luck decisions this year, but has an ERA of 0.84. He has allowed just two runs (one unearned).

O’LOUGHLIN FINDING HIS GROOVE ? Senior Luke O’Loughlin had his second solid outing in his first start of the season last weekend. O’Loughlin threw seven shutout innings against IPFW, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He ended up with a no decision as the Hawkeyes lost 1-0 in ten innings.

DOUBLE DUTY ? Sophomore Travis Sweet has been impressive in the batters box and on the mound this year. He is hitting .359 with a team-best 13 RBIs and eight stolen bases. On the hill, Sweet is 1-0 with a 1.42 ERA.

FIRST ONE’S THE HARDEST ? Hawkeye hitters are still looking for their first home run of the season. Iowa’s top returning home run hitter is Nate Price, who hit two last year. The only other hitters on the roster with a collegiate home run on their resume are Sklyer Moss, Jeff Engel, Dusty Napoleon and Ben Geelan – each with one.

Iowa hit several balls to the warning track last weekend, including two off the fence, and cold and windy weather may have kept a few balls in the park.

METZGER GETS THE CALL ? Sophomore Chase Metzger saw the first action of his career Sunday as a defensive replacement against IPFW.

O’ROURKE OUT ? Junior pitcher Casey O’Rourke has been diagnosed with testicular cancer. He will sit out the 2006 season and hopefully return to the team in 2007.

O’Rourke was Iowa’s No. 2 starter last season and finished with a 2-5 record. Over the summer, he was an all-star in the Northwoods League and led the league in wins.

CORRIDOR CLASSIC TICKETS ON SALE ? Tickets for the Corridor Classic went on sale March 27 and are available at the University of Iowa (1-800 IA HAWKS) and Cedar Rapids Kernels (1-319 896-7560) ticket offices. Prices are $25 for mezzanine and pavilion, $9 for premier, $8 for club, $7 for plaza and $6 for lawn seating. Groups of 25 or more will receive a $2 per ticket discount on plaza and club level seats.

First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 26. The game should be thrilling on the field, as each school will be hosting promotions and giveaways throughout the night – making the Corridor Classic a must-attend spring event.

I-CUB TICKETS ON SALE ? Tickets are now on sale for the University of Iowa baseball team’s exhibition against the Iowa Cubs, the AAA affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. The game, which takes place on Tuesday, April 4, will be the first played in the newly renovated Principal Park in Des Moines. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.

Tickets are on sale at the I-Cubs Box Office or by phone, Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fans also may purchase tickets online at www.iowacubs.com. Adult tickets are $10 for club box seats, $8 for field box seats and reserved grandstand seats, and $6 for general admission. Ticket prices for children (13-under) are $10 for club box seats, $8 for field box seats, $6 for reserved grandstand seats and $4 for general admission. University of Iowa students can attend the game for free by showing a valid student ID at the ticket window. For more information, contact the Iowa Cubs at 1-800-464-2827.

HAWKEYE SIGN FIVE FOR 2007 ? The University of Iowa Baseball team signed five new recruits this spring. Brock Alberts, Tyson Blaser, Kyle Heim, Michael Jacobs and George Rasiarmos all signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Iowa in the fall of 2006.

HOMEGROWN HAWKEYES ? Twenty of the 41 players on the 2006 Hawkeye team are native Iowans. The next closest state is Illinois, with ten.

THE ASSISTANT COACHES ? Head Coach Jack Dahm is assisted by batting coach Ryan Brownlee and pitching coach Nick Zumsande, along with volunteer assistant coach 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 third 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.

Maliszewski will serve as the team’s bullpen coach and assist with the pitching staff.

STAFF ADDITION ? The Hawkeye coaching staff has a new addition this year in Director of Baseball Operations Matt Haddy. He will assist the coaching staff with the day-to-day operations and administrative areas of the program. Haddy will also serve as the co-director of Hawkeye Baseball Camps.

KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY ? Hawkeye baseball ties run deep, and it shows in the support staff. Baseball administrator Fred Mims and academic advisor Troy Wulf are both former Iowa baseball players.