Hawkeyes Set For Big Ten Tournament

May 21, 2007

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THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes head to the postseason this week as the No. 4 seed in the 2007 Big Ten Tournament at Ray Fisher Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI. Iowa will open with fifth-seeded Illinois in game one Wednesday at 11:05 a.m. (CDT).

No. 3 Penn State will battle No. 6 Ohio State at approximately 3:35 p.m. ET. The top two seeds in the bracket will begin competition on Thursday as No. 1 Michigan will take on the lower seed of the first- and second-game winners, and No. 2 Minnesota will face the higher seed of the first- and second-game winners.

BACK IN THE POSTSEASON ? This is the second time in three years the Hawkeyes have made the Big Ten Tournament field. Before that, Iowa had been just once in the previous 15 seasons.

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. Voice of the Hawkeyes Brent Balbinot will call the play-by-play with former Hawkeyes Troy Wulf and Kurt Vitense supplying color commentary.

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 WEEKEND ? The Hawkeyes dropped 3-of-4 games to Big Ten Regular Season Champion Michigan last weekend at Banks Field. Iowa dropped Friday’s game 4-3 in 11 innings, then split Saturday’s doubleheader 5-11 and 8-6. The Wolverines took Sunday’s game 7-2.

Friday’s series opener was a fantastic game. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Kevin Hoef put the tying run on with one out on a hit-by-pitch, then proceeded to steal second. After Brian Burmester drew a walk, Justin Toole tied the game with an RBI single to left. Michigan was able to keep the game alive, however, when Adam Abraham struck out Jason White and catcher Chris Berset threw out pinch runner Justin Brauer at third attempting a double-steal.

Iowa threatened in the 10th, getting a one-out single from Dusty Napoleon. Abraham wiggled out of the jam, however, getting a check-swing double play on the next pitch.

Michigan struck with two outs in the top of the 11th when Nate Recknagel reached on an infield single and stole second. Anthony Toth then laid down a bunt, but Hawkeye pitcher Brock Albert’s throw to first was wild and Recknagel came home with the go-ahead run.

Iowa went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 11th to end the game.

In game one Saturday, Michigan made good use of the long ball, hitting four en route to a 11-5 win.

In game two, Iowa jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first, but Michigan cut the lead in half with a run in the top of the third.

Iowa responded in the bottom of the inning, getting a pair of runs on a sacrifice fly from Matt Wooldrik and an RBI single from T.J. Cataldo.

Once again, Michigan halved the lead in the top of the fourth, getting a two-out RBI single from Derek VanBiskirk, then cut the lead to 4-3 with an RBI single by Nate Recknagel in the top of the fifth.

The Hawkeyes took advantage of some sloppy Michigan glovework in the sixth, adding four very important insurance runs to stretch their lead to 8-3. Michigan made things very interesting in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs to cut the lead to 8-6. With one out, Doug Pickens hit a towering fly ball that looked to be a game-tying home run, but Travis Sweet made a spectacular catch, running into the centerfield wall at full speed. Mike Jacobs was able to get the third out for his first-career save.

SCHURZ OUT ? The Hawkeye bullpen took a major hit this week when closer Mike Schurz sustained an injury at the Corridor Classic and will be out for the season. Schurz was 6-1 with a 3.72 ERA, nine saves and 35 strikeouts. He had pitched in a team-high 24 games.

HAWKEYES IN THE TOURNAMENT ? This week will be the seventh time Iowa has played in the Big Ten Tournament. The team’s all-time record is 4-12, with its best finish coming in 1983, when they were runner-up. Iowa has lost six-straight in the Big Ten Tournament, dating back to 1990.

The last time Iowa was in the postseason tournament was 2005, when the Hawkeyes were the No. 3 seed and lost to Minnesota (14-7) and Michigan (8-6).

IOWA AGAINST THE FIELD ? The Hawkeyes were 8-11 against the Big Ten Tournament field during the regular season. Iowa took 3-of-4 from Illinois and 2-of-3 against Penn State, while losing 3-of-4 to Ohio State, Minnesota and Michigan.

Junior leftfielder Caleb Curry has had the most success against the tournament field, hitting .387 with seven doubles, two triples, a home run and 17 RBIs in the 19 games against them.

LOOKING TO DANCE? ? If the Hawkeyes can win the Big Ten Tournament, they will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Regional Tournament. The last time Iowa was a member of the NCAA Tournament field was 1990. The Hawkeyes went 0-2 and were eliminated after losses to North Carolina and Maine.

DIRTY DOZEN ? Iowa put together a 12-game winning streak this season (Apr. 21-May 6). That streak is the second-longest winning streak in Iowa baseball history. The Iowa record is 20 in a row, set in 1979. During that span, Iowa won 10-straight Big Ten games, which was the most in school history.

SCOUTING ILLINOIS ? The Illinois Fighting Illini finished the regular season with a 30-25 mark, 16-14 in the Big Ten. Illinois earned its spot in the tournament with a dramatic, come-from-behind win over the Michigan State Spartans on the season’s final day. Trailing 7-0 in the fifth, the Fighting Illini scored eight unanswered runs to knock the Spartans out of the postseason and take the spot for themselves.

EARLIER THIS SEASON ? The Hawkeyes won 3-of-4 games against Illinois at Banks Field this season. After dropping game one 6-2, Iowa rattled off three-straight wins (10-9, 10-4 and 17-12). The wins kicked-off Iowa’s 12-game winning streak.

SEEING WHITE ? Hawkeye shortstop Jason White may be excited to see Illinois pitching again. The senior had a weekend for the ages against the Fighting Illini the first time around, earning Big Ten Player of the Week.

He hit .611 on the weekend with four home runs, nine RBIs, nine runs scored and a 1.444 slugging percentage. In game one of the doubleheader, White had a career-best three home runs, including a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh off Illinois closer Jake Toohey. For an encore Sunday, White hit for the cycle with four RBIs and four runs scored.

UNSELFISH PLAY ? The Hawkeyes can’t be called a selfish team, as two Iowa players are tied for the Big Ten lead in sacrifice flies. Caleb Curry and Kevin Hoef each have seven on the year.

Travis Sweet is third in the league with 13 sacrifice bunts.

WHITE SCORES ? Shortstop Jason White currently leads the Big Ten with 69 runs scored. That total is the third-highest single-season total at Iowa and just one behind second place. John Knapp has the single-season record with 80.

HOW SWEET IT IS ? Centerfielder Travis Sweet has been clubbing the ball all over the field this season, and is currently third in the Big Ten with a .409 batting average. His 81 hits ties him with Chris Hatcher for the second-highest single season total at Iowa. John Knapp holds the record at 91.

Sweet is also second in the Big Ten in runs scored (61), third in total bases (116) and on base percentage (.483), and fourth in hits (81), slugging percentage (.611) and stolen bases (25).

NAPOLEON GETS ON ? Hawkeye junior Dusty Napoleon leads the Big Ten with 49 walks. Napoleon is also second in on base percentage (.515) and third in RBIs (55).

PLAYERS OF THE WEEK ? The Hawkeyes had three players honored by the Big Ten this season. Travis Sweet was named Big Ten Player of the Week on March 6 and again on April 30, while Jason White was earned the award April 23. Closer Mike Schurz was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week March 26.

HAWKEYE SIGN FIVE FOR 2008 ? The University of Iowa Baseball team 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 ? Seventeen of the 39 players on the 2007 Hawkeye team are native Iowans. The next closest state is Illinois, with nine.

THE ASSISTANT COACHES ? Head Coach Jack Dahm is assisted by batting coach Ryan Brownlee, pitching coach Nick Zumsande, and volunteer coach Kris Welker.

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 fourth 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.

The Hawkeyes also welcome back former catcher Welker, who works with the Hawkeye catchers and outfielders, prepares scouting reports and coaches first base.

OPERATIONS MASTER ? The Hawkeye coaching staff will once again rely on the efforts 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.

WHISTLIN’ RAY ? Of all the members of the Hawkeye baseball program, the longest tenured is “Whistlin'” Ray Gilmore, who serves as Iowa’s official scorekeeper. Gilmore started as a batboy in 1978, and has since served as manager, public address announcer and unofficial mascot for Iowa Baseball.

Iowa record since Gilmore joined the program is 826-754-4.