Hawkeyes Host Two Before Hitting the Highway

April 17, 2006

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THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes will host North Dakota State in a pair of midweek games before traveling to Illinois for a four-game Big Ten series with the Fighting Illini over the weekend. Iowa will battle the Bison Tuesday at 6 p.m. and Wednesday at 4 p.m. Friday night’s game in Champaign is scheduled for 6 p.m., while Saturday’s doubleheader will begin at 3 p.m. Iowa and Illinois will wrap-up the series Sunday at 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.

Due to a scheduling conflict, Tuesday’s game with North Dakota State will not be broadcast on KXIC.

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.

LAST WEEK ? It was a rough week for the Hawkeyes, who won just one of five games played at Banks Field. Iowa dropped a midweek game against the No. 4 Nebraska Cornhuskers, 16-14 in 13 innings, then lost three-of-four against Minnesota over the weekend. The Hawkeyes lost Friday’s game 9-0 and game one Saturday 5-2. Iowa rebounded for a 3-1 win in game two, but dropped Sunday’s finale 12-1.

The Hawkeyes got down early against Nebraska, but made a ferocious late-inning comeback to tie things up.

Down three with two down in the bottom of the ninth, Nate Price drew a walk and Ryan Gryzwa was hit by a pitch to bring the tying run to the plate in Travis Sweet. The sophomore from Cedar Rapids then blasted a three-run home run over the leftfield fence off preseason first team All-American closer Brett Jensen to tie things up and send the game to extra innings.

The homer was Sweet’s first of his collegiate career.

Nebraska got a two-out, two-run single from Jake Opitz in the top of the 13th to take a 16-14 lead. Iowa was able to get a runner on in the bottom of the 13th, but couldn’t bring home the equalizer.

Friday against Minnesota, control issues bogged down Hawkeye starting pitcher Luke O’Loughlin, who allowed eight hits, three walks and six hit batsmen in six innings of work.

Minnesota started off quick in the top of the first, getting three runs off two hits and a Hawkeye error. The Golden Gophers started up again in the second, taking advantage of three Hawkeye errors to put four more on the scoreboard. Minnesota got runs in the third and fourth innings to stretch their lead to 9-0.

The Hawkeyes broke onto the scoreboard first in game one Saturday, when freshman third baseman Kevin Hoef delivered a clutch two-out RBI single with a poke into right.

The Golden Gophers took advantage of a Hawkeye throwing error to tie things up in the top of the fifth. Minnesota took a 4-1 lead in the sixth, getting three runs off three hits and another costly Hawkeye error. They added another run in the top of the seventh to extend the lead to 5-1.

The Hawkeyes got a run in the seventh on an RBI groundout from L.J. Mims and put runners on second and third with two outs, but Iowa could manage no more and fell 5-2.

In game two, the Golden Gophers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second by putting runners on second and third, then getting a slow roller to short that scored Andy Hunter.

Iowa came right back in the bottom of the inning with a trio of runs to take a 3-1 lead. Hoef started the scoring with a sacrifice fly, followed by a run-scoring sacrifice bunt from Matt Wooldrik. Travis Sweet then gave the Hawkeyes their third run with a single up the middle.

The Hawkeyes struggled early both on the hill and in the field Sunday, allowing Minnesota to build an early lead and cruise to the win. Iowa starter Sweet had trouble getting out of innings early, getting the first two hitters out in each of the first two innings before Minnesota rallied for runs.

The Golden Gophers took advantage of inconsistent pitching and sloppy fielding to score in each of the first five innings.

Iowa got its only run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI double from Jeff Engel.

SCOUTING NORTH DAKOTA STATE ? The North Dakota State Bison are 3-27 on the season and starting a ten-game road trip with their two games in Iowa City. The Bison are a Division I Independent team.

The offense is led by senior infielder Charles Magedanz, who is hitting .328 with a home run and 15 RBIs. Another Bison to watch is Jared Sullivan, who has a .313 batting average with 10 doubles and 14 RBIs.

On the hill, the Hawkeyes will more than likely see southpaw Jake Laber (1-6, 6.75 ERA) Tuesday, then Matt Mossey (0-3, 4.57) on Wednesday.

The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series 3-0, and took last year’s meeting by a score of 4-1.

The Bison are coached by Dr. Mitch McLeod, who is in his 14th season.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS ? The University of Illinois Fighting Illini are 16-16 on the year and 4-8 in the Big Ten. Illinois won the Big Ten Regular Season Championship last year, but returned just two starters from that team.

The offense is led by Chase Kliment, who is hitting a team-best .343 with two home runs and 22 RBIs. Canadian import Lars Davis is hitting .325 with two homers and 20 RBIs.

The Hawkeyes can expect to see four righthanded pitchers this weekend, as Illinois is expected to shake up its pitching rotation. Closer Matt Whitmore (1-0, 1.33 ERA, 6 SV) will start Friday, followed by Ben Reeser (2-1, 6.17) and Tanner Roark (1-0, 4.70) on Saturday, and Jake Stewart (2-2, 5.47).

Illinois leads the all-time series 113-75-2. Iowa won three-of-four games at Champaign last season.

They are coached by Dan Hartleb, who is in his first season. He replaced legendary Illini coach Richard “Itch” Jones, under whom he was an assistant for 15 seasons.

FIRST LOSS ? Senior Jeff Maitland was saddled with his first loss of the year Saturday against Minnesota. The southpaw allowed just two earned runs (four overall) in five and a third innings of work

For the season, Maitland is 4-1 with a 2.51 ERA and a team-best 32 strikeouts.

SLAMMING THE DOOR ? Hawkeye closer Tim Gudex picked up his sixth save of the year in game two Saturday. He allowed just one baserunner and struck out two in an inning of work.

On the year, Gudex is 3-1 with a 0.96 ERA. He has 20 strikeouts in just 18 2/3 innings of work.

SWEET A MULTI-TASKER ? Sophomore Travis Sweet has to bring a lot of gloves to the ballpark everyday. The Cedar Rapids native has played five positions so far this season – secondbase, thirdbase, left and right fields, along with pitching.

He may not have a home in the field, but he is comfortable at the plate, hitting a team-best .321. He as 20 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.

SELFLESS PLAYER ? Junior Jason White has done a good job moving runners over this season, and leads the Big Ten with 11 sacrifice bunts.

MIMS EARNS BIG TEN HONORS ? Hawkeye outfielder L.J. Mims was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week last week.

Mims, a senior from Cedar Rapids, hit .455 last week (5-for-11) and knocked in five RBIs. His efforts helped Iowa win three-of-four games at Penn State. He shared the award with sophomore Eric Fryer of Ohio State.

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 17, 27, May 2, 8, 15 and 29.

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 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.