Feb. 26, 2007
THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes will head to sunny Florida this weekend to take part in the Stetson Tournament. Iowa will face a trio of tough teams, each of which was in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Hawkeyes will battle No. 18 Nebraska Friday at Noon, then take on Stetson Saturday at 10 a.m. before finishing with Notre Dame Sunday at 11 a.m.
HAWKEYES ON THE NET ? Iowa baseball fans can follow the Hawkeyes every week, as live stats will be available on www.hawkeyesports.com. Just click on the Gametracker link found on the baseball schedule page.
HAWKEYES ON THE AIR ? If you can’t make it out to the ballpark this season, you can still catch all the Hawkeye action on AM 800 KXIC. Starting with Iowa’s home opener on March 23, Voice of the Hawkeyes Brent Balbinot will call the play-by-play.
You can also listen to the broadcast and on the internet at www.hawkeyesports.com. It is available for free in the Hawkeye All-Access section.
LAST WEEK’S ACTION ? The Hawkeyes split a pair of games with Arkansas-Little Rock on their opening weekend, falling 8-2 in the season opener Friday, then coming back to win 9-6 Sunday. Iowa and Arkansas-Little Rock were supposed to play a three-game series, but rains washed away Saturday’s game.
On Friday, the Hawkeyes started off well by taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the second when sophomore second baseman Justin Toole drew a bases-loaded walk. Dusty Napoleon and Wes Freie led of the inning with back-to-back walks, and Brian Burmester loaded the bases with a single. The next two batters struck out, but Toole was patient at the plate and brought home the games first run with a base on balls.
Iowa took a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth when Burmester was hit by a pitch, stole second and came home on a double off the bat of Matt Wookdrik.
Arkansas-Little Rock tied the game in the bottom of the inning with a two-run home run from Osvaldo Torres. Things remained knotted 2-2 until the bottom of the sixth, when the Trojans took advantage of a bout of wildness from Brune and a costly error. A single, walk and hit batsman loaded the bases, and another hit batsman brought home the go-ahead run. After a strikeout, Brad Swiderski hit a fly ball to the rightfield warning track that bounced out of Wooldrik’s glove and cleared the bases. Ryan Gotcher followed that up with a double down the line that plated Swiderski, giving the Trojans a 7-2 advantage.
Arkansas-Little Rock added an insurance run in the seventh and held the Hawkeyes off the board the rest of the way.
David Conroy threw well in the start, allowing two runs off just two hits in three and a third innings.
On Sunday, Freie led the way by going 3-of-5 with a home run and four RBIs. Senior shortstop Jason White was 2-for-3 with two runs scored and a stolen base.
Iowa stormed out of the gates, taking a 2-0 first-inning lead on an RBI groundout from Napoleon and a run-scoring single from Freie.
Arkansas-Little Rock cut the lead to 2-1 with a run in the second, but the Hawkeyes responded with two more in the top of the third with Freie’s two-run homer. Iowa stretched its lead to 7-1 in the fourth on an RBI single from Travis Sweet and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Kevin Hoef.
The Trojans came back with a two-run home run off starter Steve Turnbull in the fourth, then cut the lead to 7-6 on a three-run homer from Osvaldo Torres.
Iowa added insurance runs in the seventh and eighth innings, then handed the game to closer Mike Schurz, who threw a perfect ninth for his first save.
O’ROURKE RETURNS ? Hawkeye junior Casey O’Rourke returned to the mound Sunday after missing all of last season with testicular cancer.
O’Rourke retired the first batter he faced in his return. He ended up facing four batters and allowing a three-run homer.
O’Rourke was Iowa’s No. 2 starter in 2005 and finished with a 2-5 record. During the summer of 2005, he was an all-star in the Northwoods League and led the league in wins before being diagnosed in December of 2005.
SCOUTING NEBRASKA ? The Nebraska Cornhuskers are 5-2 on the year and ranked 18th by Baseball America.
The Cornhuskers return six position starters and 12 pitchers from last year’s team. Offensively, the Huskers welcome back four All-Big XII performers in shortstop Ryan Wehrle, first baseman/outfielder Andrew Brown, designated hitter Andy Gerch and second baseman Jake Opitz.
The Huskers are coached by two-time Big XII Coach of the Year Mike Anderson, who is in his fifth year at the helm.
Nebraska leads the all-time series 9-7.
Last year, Iowa lost to Nebraska, 16-14, in a wild, 13-inning affair at Banks Field. The game was highlighted by Travis Sweet’s two-out, game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off all-American closer Brett Jensen.
SCOUTING STETSON ? The Stetson Hatters are 8-3 on the season and coming off two-consecutive conference championships.
On offense, the Hatters have been getting great production from Braedyn Pruitt, who is hitting a team-best .415 with a home run and 12 RBIs. Shan Jordan is also having a good season, with a .405 average, two triples, eight RBIs and four stolen bases.
In the bullpen, Stetson gives way to a top-notch closer in Robbie Elsemiller, who already has three saves this year.
The Hatters are coached by Pete Dunn, who is in his 28th season. Last year, Dunn became the 34th coach in NCAA history to win 1,000 games.
Stetson leads the all-time series 4-1.
SCOUTING NOTRE DAME ? The Notre Dame Fighting Irish come into the weekend 2-4 on the year.
So far this season, one of the Irish’s top players has been two-way star Mike Dury. In the batter’s box, he is hitting a team-best.364 with a home run and four RBIs. On the hill, he has not given up a run in two relief appearances. Notre Dame also has Ross Brezovsky, who is hitting .333 with three runs batted in.
The Fighting Irish are coached by former UNI coach Dave Schrage, who is in his first year. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 40-24-1, including taking 3-of-4 games last season.
BALES MAKES DEBUT ? Friday’s game saw the Hawkeye debut of pitcher Danny Bales, who missed his first two seasons with an arm injury. Bales impressed, allowing two hits and one run over two innings while striking out four.
FREIE GOES DEEP ? Sophomore first baseman Wes Freie hit a two-run home run in Sunday’s game, the first of his collegiate career and Iowa’s first of the season.
ERDMAN IMPRESSES ? Hawkeye sophomore Nick Erdman was supposed to start Sunday’s game, but was bumped after Saturday’s rainout. That didn’t stop the Cedar Rapids native from contributing, however. With Arkansas-Little Rock mounting a comeback after cutting the lead in Sunday’s game to 7-6, Erdman came in from the bullpen and slammed the door, allowing just one hit in three and 2/3 innings.
SWEET IN CENTER ? Hawkeye junior Travis Sweet will add to his versatile resume this season by moving to centerfield, where he will take over for all-Big Ten selection Nate Price. Sweet has played all over the diamond in his two years at Iowa, seeing time at second and third base, left field and on the mound.
SCHURZ THE STOPPER ? Transfer Mike Schurz made good in his first chance to fill the void two-time all-Big Ten closer Tim Gudex left behind, pitching a perfect ninth inning and picking up his first save Sunday against Arkansas-Little Rock. Schurz, who comes from Radford University, has Division I experience and the makeup coaches love in the back end of the bullpen.
SPEED KILLS ? The Hawkeyes will have a lot of speed at the top of the lineup this year. Leadoff hitter Jason White was 18-of-20 in stolen bases last year, while No. 2 hitter Travis Sweet was a team-best 22-for-29 and No. 3 hitter Kevin Hoef was 12-of-15.
HAWKEYE SIGN FIVE FOR 2008 ? The University of Iowa Baseball team has signed five players for the 2008 season. Nic Jensen, Zach Kenyon, Phil Keppler, Kevin Lee and Tony Manville all signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Iowa.
HOMEGROWN HAWKEYES ? Eighteen of the 39 players on the 2006 Hawkeye team are native Iowans. The next closest state is Illinois, with nine.