Iowa Begins Second Half of Big Ten Season at Michigan State

April 24, 2008

SERIES INFORMATION: The Iowa Hawkeyes (15-22, 5-11) travel to Lansing, MI, to face Michigan State (14-21, 4-11) in a four-game Big Ten weekend series at Oldsmobile Park.

SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE: The Iowa Hawkeyes will face the Michigan State Spartans in a four-game series Friday-Sunday at Oldsmobile Park in Lansing, MI. Michigan State won its last game, 10-6, over Toledo Wednesday night at home. Chris Roberts ignited the Spartan offense, going 3-for-3 with two RBI and a walk. Last weekend, Michigan State was swept by in-state rival Michigan. The Wolverines out-scored the Spartans 52-16 in the four-game series. Michigan State, who is 4-9 at home, will play the Lansing Lugnuts in an exhibition Thursday night. The Lugnuts are a minor league affiliate of the Toronto Bluejays. The Spartans are led, offensively, by Kyle Day who is hitting .341 with five homers, 34 RBI and 21 walks. After Day, the next highest ranked Spartan in RBI is Roberts and Eric Roof with 16. Roberts has totaled nine extra base hits and is hitting .327. Roof is batting .296. Michigan State’s pitching staff has accumulated a 5.60 ERA. Chris Cullen is the starter to look out for, as he is 4-1 with a 2.85 ERA. Iowa trails the all-time series between the two schools, 65-55-1.

LONG TIME, NO SEE: This weekend will be the first time Iowa and Michigan State will meet since 2005. The Hawkeyes and Spartans did not play each other the last two seasons. The two teams split a four-game series in 2005 in Iowa City. The last time Iowa visited Michigan State was 2004.

DAHM CAPTURES MILESTONE: Head Coach Jack Dahm captured his 400th career victory Wednesday night with Iowa’s 5-2 win at Northern Iowa. Dahm recorded 283 victories at Creighton and has won 117 at Iowa. Dahm started in 1994 with his alma mater, Creighton University, and moved on to coach the Hawkeyes in 2003.

IOWA OFFENSE IS STREAKING: Caleb Curry’s hitting streak ended last weekend against Northwestern, it was a team-high streak of 15-games. Justin Toole has been swinging the bat well, having gone the last 11 games with a hit. Curry leads the team in multi-RBI games with 12, followed by Kurtis Muller (10) and Toole (9). Kevin Hoef has an 18 multi-hit games to lead Iowa, while Curry and Toole have 17 multi-hit games this year.

GETTING OFF TO A GOOD START: Last weekend, the Hawkeyes got off to a great start in every ballgame, having scored at least once in the bottom of the first inning.

DIAMOND THIEVES: This season Iowa has out-run their opponents, going 83-for-108. Leading Iowa in steals is Caleb Curry (25), followed by Justin Toole (15) and Kyle Riffel with 12. Iowa ranks first in the Big Ten and fifth nationally in thefts per game.

BY THE NUMBERS IN THE BIG TEN: Caleb Curry has taken the Big Ten by storm, when compared with the league’s players he ranks in the top ten in: batting average (.409), on base percentage (.473), slugging percentage (.561), hits (56), runs batted in (41), hit-by-pitches (8) and stolen bases (25). Other Hawkeyes who rank well in the conference include: Justin Toole is in the top ten in runs batted in (34), hits (56) and runs scored (38). Kevin Hoef leads the league in hit-by-pitches (15), is fourth in runs scored (38), is fourth in triples (3) and fifth in total plate appearances (169). Kyle Riffel leads the league in sac bunts (9), and is ninth in the league in hit-by-pitches (6) and Kurtis Muller is sixth in the league in sac bunts (6). Andrew Porter is first in appearances (23) and sixth in saves (4) and Kyle Heim is tied for second (20) in appearances.

IOWA DOWNS IN-STATE RIVAL: The Hawkeyes defeated in-state rival Northern Iowa (UNI) Wednesday night in front of 1,012 fans at Riverfront Stadium, 5-2. The win was Iowa Head Coach Jack Dahm’s 400th of his career and snapped a three-game losing streak for the Hawkeyes. The two runs Iowa allowed UNI tonight matched a season low for the Panthers. In the win, five Hawkeyes recorded multi-hit games and four recorded an RBI. Kurtis Muller led the Hawkeyes going 2-for-5 and driving in two runs. Caleb Curry went 2-for-4 with a double, run and RBI. Wes Freie moved to the clean-up spot and went 2-for-4 with an RBI, a double and a walk. Justin Toole was 2-for-5 with a run, while Justin Brauer went 2-for-4 with a run. Steve Turnbull threw four solid innings, striking out three and allowed no earned runs and no walks in earning his second win of the season. Turnbull made his first start since March 18 at Stetson.

SUCCESSFUL WITH RUNNERS: Several Hawkeyes have taken advantage of base runners this season. Caleb Curry is hitting .506 (40-79) with runners on to lead the Black and Gold. Justin Toole is hitting .773 (12-17) when runners are on third and less than two outs, while Kurtis Muller is 44-for-76 (.579) in advancing runners. Kevin Hoef is hitting .500 (5-10) with the bases loaded.

UTILIZING THE SAC BUNT: The Hawkeyes lead the Big Ten in sacrifice bunts this season in the conference (36). Leading the Black and Gold is Kyle Riffel with nine, followed by Kurtis Muller with six, and Justin Toole with four.

WEARING PITCHES: Iowa has no problem taking one for the team. The Hawkeyes have 56 hit-by-pitches on the year which is more than any other team in the Big Ten and enough to rank them 43rd in the country in the category. To lead the Black and Gold is Kevin Hoef with 15, followed by Caleb Curry (8) and Kurtis Muller (7).

FRESHMAN STEPS UP: Kurtis Muller has had a stellar season as Iowa’s only everyday freshman starter, hitting a solid .290. He has 32 RBI, nine stolen bases, five doubles, one triple and two homers on the year. On top of that, he leads the league in sac flies (5) and ranks second in team sac hits (6). This past weekend, Muller was red-hot, going 7-for-13 with seven RBI. On Wednesday, Muller went 2-for-5 with two RBI and a run.

McMANIS TAKES ON CATCHER: Because Tyson Blaser and Ben Geelan are not 100 percent with injuries — utility infielder Kody McManis has started a major of the games behind the dish. McManis has improved behind the plate and also from the batter’s box, as well. On the season, McManis is hitting .306 with a double and five RBI. Coming into the season, McManis had a career .186 batting average. Geelan returned to action last Sunday after missing three and a half weeks with an ankle injury. The senior played in two games this week, going 2-for-5 with a run and RBI in his return.

BRANDS TO THROW OUT FIRST PITCH AT CORRIDOR CLASSIC: Iowa Head Wrestling Coach Tom Brands will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the fifth annual Corridor Classic presented by Cedar Rapids Toyota-Scion Wednesday at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. The Corridor Classic pits the Iowa Hawkeyes against the Northern Iowa Panthers in baseball. Brands, who was named the National and Big Ten Coach of the Year, led the Hawkeyes to their 21st national championship last month. In addition, the Big Ten and NCAA Championship trophies will be on display on the concourse at the event.

HAWKEYES GO YARD: The Hawkeyes added another three home runs to their Big Ten total vs. Northwestern last weekend. Iowa hit three long balls in the four-game series. The Hawkeye total has now swelled to 14. Against Northwestern, Kevin Hoef hit his third career homer, Caleb Curry hit a shot for his second one this week and Wes Freie hit a bomb to give him his third this season. Eleven of Iowa’s 14 homers this season have been in Big Ten play (five at Indiana and three vs. Purdue and Northwestern).

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