Feb. 24, 2010
THE SETTING: Iowa will leave the snow behind and fly down to Florida to compete in the second annual Big Ten/Big East Challenge. The Hawkeyes will face three Big East opponents on the road trip; Rutgers Friday (9 a.m.), West Virginia Saturday (noon) and Villanova Sunday (noon). The games will all take place in former major league spring training venues: Al Lang Stadium, Naimoli Complex and Jack Russell Stadium. The Black and Gold went 1-2 last season at the challenge.
ON THE NET: Iowa baseball fans can follow the Hawkeyes, as live stats will be available on hawkeyesports.com. Just click on the Gametracker link found on both the front page and the baseball schedule page. Whistlin’ Ray Gilmore enters his 33rd season with the Hawkeye baseball program and will be entering the stats.
ON WEBCAST: Hawkeye fans can watch the game on collegebaseball360.com, the fastest growing college baseball wesbite on the internet. The Iowa vs. Rutgers showdown will be the first of nine contests shown on the website.
SCOUTING RUTGERS: The Scarlet Knights started 2010 dropping three on the road to No. 16 Miami. The Scarlet Knight’s top offensive producers from 2009, Michael Lang and Jaren Matthews went a combined 3-for-33. Thus far, Rutgers’ offense has been led by DH Pat Biserta. Biserta went 4-for-12 with two bombs, four RBI and three runs scored. Rutgers starter, Willie Beard, got a no decision after pitching five complete innings and allow five earned runs. The other two starters for the Scarlet Knights compiled an 8.31 ERA.
SCOUTING WEST VIRGINIA: The Mountaineers dropped three last weekend. West Virginia lost to No. 12 Coastal Carolina, Kentucky and Virginia Tech. The three teams combined to outscore the Mountaineers, 24-5. West Virginia was led by Grant Buckner. The right fielder went 5-for-12 with two RBI, a stolen base and a .667 slugging percentage. The team combined to hit .214. Preseason all-American Jedd Gyorko did well in the first game, going 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI. The Mountaineer pitching staff amassed a 8.28 ERA, with only three pitchers keeping their average under three. Opponents hit .365 off them.
SCOUTING VILLANOVA: Villanova got off to a good start on the road. The Wildcats swept Norfolk State, 3-0. Villanova outscored its opponents, 30-6. The Wildcat pitching staff dominated, not allowing one earned run in the three-game series and striking out 32. Besides excelling on the mound, Villanova tore up the base paths going a perfect 14-for-14. The Wildcat offense was also patient, drawing 21 free passes and batting .357 as a team with a .462 on-base percentage in the series.
STACKING UP IN THE BIG TEN: The Iowa offense had a stellar opening weekend, especially when compared to other Big Ten teams. The Hawkeyes rank first in batting average (.381), slugging percentage (.619) and in the top three in on base percentage (.469), runs scored (27), RBI (24), doubles (6), triples (1), home runs (4) and stolen bases (5).
`Q’ GOES BIG: The sophomore second baseman brought offense to Clarksville, TN. Mike McQuillan went 6-for-12 in the two-game series. Driving in a team-best seven runs, slugging a monstrous 1.083% and going yard twice– including his first career grand slam.
MULLER DELIVERS: After a 2009 season of lingering injuries, junior outfielder Kurtis Muller was back to his old self this summer. He continued to deliver in Iowa’s season opening tournament. Muller went 5-for-11 with a team-best two doubles and a triple. He also played tough defense, making six putouts (only second to first baseman, Sean Flanagan).
BIG TEN GAME HIGHS: The Hawkeyes four home runs in the win over Illinois State ties with Michigan in the most home runs hit in a game this season. The Black and Gold also hold the conference’s game-high in total bases– with 35.
HAWKEYES ARE STREAKIN’: Junior Kurtis Muller entered the 2010 season with a 12-game hitting streak intact. With a stellar offensive showing this weekend, Muller continued on to a 14-game streak. Other Hawkeyes on a roll from a year ago who continued are: Chett Zeise (5) and Dallas Burke (4).
SWINGIN’ FOR THE FENCES: The Iowa offense started the season with a bang, or perhaps more a ding. Three different Hawkeyes connected with the sweet part of the bat for home run. Sophomore Mike McQuillan connected twice, first for a two-run shot and second with his first career grand slam. Fellow sophomores Chett Zeise and Sean Flanagan both connected for three-run bombs. Four home runs is the most team total since Iowa blasted five at Tennessee Martin in 2009.
RBI ALERT: Sophomore Mike McQuillan drove in seven RBI to lead Iowa to victory over Illinois State Saturday. The RBI total is the most since Dallas Burke drove in six against Minnesota on May 2, 2009. Seven RBI also ties for the conference’s game-high this year. (Tying with Coley Crank from Michigan.)
LEE GETS SAVE #1: New Hawkeye closer Kevin Lee picked up his first career save against Illinois State. Lee went one and on-third innings allowing no runs on one hit.
WALK ON DOWN: The Hawkeye offense was patient at the plate against Illinois State. The team combined for seven base on balls. That ties the 2009 season’s game high against Tennessee Martin and Coe College.
PITCHING STAFF: The Hawkeye bullpen threw for 10.1 innings allowing 10 earned runs and striking out seven. Michael Jacobs, Zach Kenyon and Kevin Lee combined for five and two-third innings allowing no earned runs.
WEEKEND RECAP: The Hawkeyes split their season opener in Clarksville, TN, at Raymond C. Hand Park Saturday. A late offensive explosion lifted Iowa to a 19-11 season-opening victory over Illinois State. The Hawkeyes scored all 19 runs in the final four innings, including posting a seven-spot in the top of the ninth. Iowa blasted four home runs and also smacked five doubles en route to victory. All four round-trippers plated multiple runs: a grand slam, two three-run bombs and a two-run shot. Iowa pounded out 17 hits and Iowa’s first five batters in the lineup each had two hits or more and had a collective total of 12 hits. The Hawkeyes outhit Austin Peay in the night cap, but ultimately lost, 13-8. Mike McQuillan went 6-for-12 with seven RBI, three runs scored, two home runs and a double to lead Iowa’s offense in the team’s first two games. Kurtis Muller went 5-for-11 with three RBI, two doubles, a triple and two walks. Sean Flanagan went 3-for-7 with four runs scored and one three-run home run. All 11 Hawkeyes sent to the plate, reached base–including 10 recording one hit, and 10 scoring at least one run.
WHERE THE HAWKEYES RANK: Mike McQuillan made a splash in the Big Ten rankings. The sophomore ranks in the top ten in seven statistical categories: batting average (2nd), slugging percentage (3rd), on base percentage (10th), hits (6th), RBI (2nd), home runs (2nd) and total bases (4th). Other Hawkeyes who made the top 10 are: Kurtis Muller in batting average (8th), slugging percentage (7th), RBI (9th), doubles (4th), triples (1st) and total bases (8th). Sean Flanagan in slugging percentage (5th), on base percentage (3rd) and hit by pitch (1st). Kurt Lee in runs scored (3rd), Chett Zeise in slugging percentage (9th) and Trevor Willis in sac bunts (1st).
INFIELD HAS NEW LOOK: With former starters Kevin Hoef, Justin Toole, TJ Cataldo and Wes Freie out of the picture, the Hawkeyes have a lot of new faces in the infield. The only positive to Iowa’s plague of injuries a year ago, is that every 2010 starter in the infield has game experience. Chett Zeise will take over as Iowa’s starting third baseman this spring, and junior transfer, Kurtis Lee, will take over at shortstop. Mike McQuillan will continue in the starting second baseman role, while Sean Flanagan will play at first.
JUNIOR TRANSFER TAKES OVER AT SHORT: Junior transfer Kurtis Lee comes to Iowa from Redding, CA, and will replace former Iowa standout Justin Toole. A unanimous all-Golden Valley Conference selection at shortstop, Lee was named best all-around player. Lee led Shasta with a .379 batting average, 41 runs scored, 24 walks and 17 steals. He had three hits in his Hawkeye debut last weekend.