Hawkeyes Head to Penn State

April 6, 2006

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THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes will travel to Happy Valley for a four-game series with Penn State. Friday’s game will start at 2 p.m., while Saturday’s doubleheader is scheduled for noon. The two teams will wrap-up the series Sunday at 9 a.m. All times are Central.

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 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.

THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes have taken the field twice this week, suiting up for an exhibition with the AAA Iowa Cubs and playing at Illinois State. Iowa lost both games, 20-0 against the professionals and 5-2 against the Redbirds.

The I-Cubs posted three runs off four hits in the bottom of the first, then stretched their lead to 11-0 with a eight-run second. The AAA squad got three-run home runs from Casey McGehee and Felix Pie – the Chicago Cubs top-prospect according to Baseball America.

Hawkeye freshman reliever Wes Freie held the I-Cubs scoreless in the third, but the professionals came back with five more in the fourth behind a three-run triple by Pie. Freie ended the inning by striking out former major leaguer Michael Restovich with the bases loaded.

The I-Cubs took over pitching duties for both teams in the seventh, allowing the Hawkeyes to rest their pitching staff.

In Wednesday’s game, Illinois State got all five runs in the fifth inning when they took advantage of a costly Hawkeye miscue. The Redbirds loaded the bases with one out on a single and two hit batsmen, then Jesse Griswald reached on an error by third baseman Kevin Hoef, which allowed two runs to cross the plate. Illinois State got a pair of RBI base hits from Nick Christ and Mike Torkarski to take a 5-0 lead.

Iowa came back in the fifth with a pair of runs. The Hawkeyes loaded the bases with no outs when Ryan Gryzwa singled, Nate Price walked and Jason White beat out a bunt for a hit. Ben Geelan brought home the first Hawkeye run by drawing a walk. Iowa played another on an RBI groundout from Freie, but couldn’t push any more across.

FACING THE BEST ? The Hawkeyes faced the best pitching they will see all year at Principal Park Tuesday. I-Cubs started with two of the Cubs top pitching prospects – Angel Guzman, the No. 4 prospect in the organization according to Baseball America, and Rich Hill, who saw action in ten games with Chicago last season and is said to have one of the best curveballs in the game. Both Guzman and Hill are candidates for an early season call-up when the Cubs need a fifth-starter.

Travis Sweet, Ben Geelan and Kevin Hoef each picked up hits off Guzman. Sweet also hit a towering fly ball to the warning track in center against Hill, but it fell just short of the fence.

SCOUTING PENN STATE ? The Penn State Nittany Lions are 7-18 on the year and 2-2 in Big Ten play. Penn State is coming off an opening weekend split at Minnesota. They also won a mid-week game with Pittsburgh 7-4.

The Nittany Lion offense is led by sophomore outfielder Brian Ernst, who is hitting a team-best .344 with 11 RBIs. The power source is senior infielder Scott Gummo, who has hit a team-high three home runs this season. He also has knocked in 15 runs.

On the hill, Penn State will throw Alan Stidfole (1-1, 3.67), Mark Wyner (2-4, 5.80), Aaron Markowitz (1-3, 4.55) and Clark Craig (0-5, 5.93).

Stidfole, a senior southpaw, was a third team all-Big Ten selection last year. He is currently second in the Big Ten with 40 strikeouts.

Penn State leads the all-time series 22-16, but the Hawkeyes took three-out-of-four games at Banks Field last season.

The Nittany Lions are coached by Robbie Wine, who is in his second year at the helm.

SMACKING LEFTIES ? While many lefthanded hitters struggle against southpaws, senior centerfielder Nate Price is actually hitting 20 points higher against lefties this year. Price has a .324 batting average against lefthanded pitching and a .304 mark against righties. Overall, Price is hitting .312.

MAYBE HE SHOULD PLAY AAA BALL ? Hawkeye reserve T.J. Cataldo is hitless in nine career at bats with Iowa, but the redshirt freshman went 1-for-1 against the AAA Iowa Cubs Wednesday. Cataldo ripped a single in the top of the ninth.

GEELAN GOES DEEP ? Sophomore catcher Ben Geelan hit the team’s first home run of the season over the weekend, hitting a towering bomb off the light pole in left field Sunday at Banks Field.

Geelan is swinging the bat well since returning from a minor knee injury, and leads the team with a .429 batting average.

RIFFEL GETS THE CALL ? Hawkeye junior Kyle Riffel saw his first action when he started Wednesday’s game in right field. Riffel joined the team this year after spent two years with the Hawkeye football team before moving over to Jack Dahm’s squad.

GUDEX DEALING ? Hawkeye closer Tim Gudex has been dominant all season, and sports a perfect 0.00 ERA in 12 appearances. He has 14 strikeouts and just three walks in 13 1/3 innings pitched, and opponents are hitting just .075 off him.

In 11 Iowa wins this year, Gudex has recorded a win or a save in seven contests (three wins, four saves).

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 0.64. He has allowed just two runs (one unearned).

MAITLAND GOES THE DISTANCE ? Senior Jeff Maitland threw his first complete game Saturday when he threw seven solid innings in leading the Hawkeyes to a 7-1 win over Ohio State.

Maitland (3-0) is third in the Big Ten with a 2.10 ERA.

HAWK TALK WITH Jack Dahm ? Hawkeye coach Jack Dahm will be back on the airwaves this year with his call-in show, Hawk Talk with Jack Dahm. The show, hosted by the Voice of Iowa Baseball Brent Balbinot, will run from 6-7 p.m. and is broadcast on AM-800 KXIC from Flannigan’s Sports Bar & Grill in Coralville.

Hawk Talk with Jack Dahm will air on the following dates: April 10, 17, 27, May 2, 8, 15 and 29.

CORRIDOR CLASSIC TICKETS ON SALE ? Tickets for the Corridor Classic 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.

OVER 50 FREE ? Men and women ages 50 and older will receive free admission to all softball and baseball games (not post-season events) played at Pearl Field and Banks Field during the month of May. This is part of an agreement with the Johnson County Chapter of AARP.

Individuals simply need to show proof of their age (AARP card or driver’s license) upon arrival at the ticket gate.