March 24, 2010
THE SETTING: The Hawkeyes' will play a five-game homestand after 18-straight games on the road to start the season. Iowa will open up at home Friday thru Sunday against the Western Illinois Leathernecks in a three-game series. With one day off, the Black and Gold will then face South Dakota State in a two-game series next Tuesday and Wednesday.
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 posting the stats.
ON THE RADIO: Hawkeye fans can catch most Hawkeye games on AM-800 KXIC. The Voice of the Hawkeyes, Brent Balbinot, will handle the play-by-play. The three-game Western Illinois series will be broadcast on the radio and online. Tuesday's game against South Dakota State will also be broadcast on both. Due to Iowa softball at intrastate rival Iowa State, Wednesday's game will not be broadcast.
SCOUTING WESTERN ILLINOIS: Western Illinois is 5-11 with a series final against Arkansas-Little Rock Wednesday evening. A win against UALR Tuesday night ended the Leatherneck's eight game losing streak. Western Illinois' offense is led by Tom Lilja who is hitting .458 with a team-best in hits (27), slugging percentage (.627), on base percentage (.514) and runs scored (15). The Leatherneck pitching staff is led by closer David Hill. Hill has a team-best 1.04 ERA with seven appearances. He has one loss and two saves. The Leatherneck pitching staff has an 8.41 ERA and opponents are hitting .344.
SCOUTING SOUTH DAKOTA STATE: The Jackrabbits are 10-6 to start the year. After going 2-1 at Northern Colorado last weekend South Dakota State has a week off before traveling to Iowa City. The Jackrabbits are hitting a solid .328 with 22 homers and 137 runs scored (averaging 8.5 runs a game). They are led by John Lee, Jesse Sawyer and Eric Cain. South Dakota State's pitching is led by closer Trever Vermeulen. He has a 3-0 record with four saves to lead the team. Vermeulen has appeared in 11 games with 26 strikeouts in 19.2 innings.
ALL-TIME SERIES: The Hawkeyes lead the all-time series with the Leathernecks, 60-24-2. The last time Iowa played Western Illinois, the Hawkeyes bats lifted them to a 20-7 victory on April 21, 2009 at Woodman Park in Davenport, IA. . In the win, the Hawkeyes pounded out 16 hits, nine of which were for extra bases. Six Hawkeyes recorded multiple RBI, while five had multiple hits en route to victory. Ryan Durant extended his hitting streak to 12 games in the first inning and finished the contest 2-for-3 with two RBI, two doubles, three runs scored and a walk. Sean Flanagan went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and an RBI. Mike McQuillan went 1-for-3 with a two-run homer and a walk. This will be Iowa's first meeting with South Dakota State.
SEASON TICKETS: Hawkeye fans are encouraged to get season tickets. $25 - Reserved Season Ticket $15 - General Admission Season Tickets Free - 18 and Under - General Admission For more information, call the UI Athletics Ticket Office at 1-800 IA-HAWKS.
KEPPLER SWINGS IT: Redshirt sophomore Phil Keppler swung the bat well in the final four games of the spring trip. The first basemen went 4-for-10 with two runs scored, a career first grand slam and a team-best four RBI. He slugged a solid .700.
HAWKEYES ARE STREAKIN': Junior Kurtis Muller had his 20-game hit streak end at No. 3 Texas. However, he is at it again, currently on a four-game hit streak. He has recorded at least one base hit in 15 of Iowa's 17 contests this season. Redshirt sophomore Phil Keppler is currently on a season-best three-game streak.
THREE THINGS TO WATCH: 1. Kurtis Muller lost his 20-game hit streak against No. 3 Texas. But the leadoff hitter hit .500 (6-for-12) in the final four games of Iowa's road trip. 2. In the final four games of Iowa's spring trip, the Hawkeye pitching staff struck out 28 batters in 33 innings. Relief pitchers accounted for 14 of those. 3. The two-game series against South Dakota State fans are encouraged to wear black and `black out' Duane Banks Field.
PITCHING STAFF: In the final four games of the spring trip, against UTSA and UTPA last week, the Iowa bullpen shined. Patrick Brennan, Matt Dermody, Michael Jacobs, Kevin Lee, Jeff Pacha and Patrick Schatz made up the pen. The six pitchers amassed 14 strikeouts in 13.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on 11 hits. Dermody, Jacobs, Lee and Pacha did not allow a run in seven and one-third innings.
PITCHING PACHA: After pitching one and one-third innings total in three contests in 2009 and allowing four earned runs in the process, junior Jeff Pacha has excelled in 2010. In two games against UTPA, the lefty picked up his fourth and fifth appearances of the year. He struck out three in three and one-third innings, allowing no hits or runs. Opponents are hitting .063 against him on the year, a team-best.
SITUATIONALLY SPEAKING: Lefty Dallas Burke is hitting .400 (6-for-15) against southpaw pitchers. Andrew Host is proving to be a clutch pinch hitter , going a perfect 3-for-3 in that role this year. With runners in scoring position, Dan Sheppard leads the team with a .500 average (4-for-8) and Kurtis Muller is 8-for-15 (.533) with two outs. .
Jarred Hippen finds a way to get batters out. The lefty has a team-best 22 fly outs and 46 groundouts. He also leads the team with an average of 6.47 innings per appearance and a 2.3 strikeout to walk ratio. Zach Kenyon is dominant against left-handed opponents. They are a mere 5-for-30 against him. Righty Nick Brown got his first action last week in Texas. Opponents couldn't get a hit off of him with two outs registered.
HIPPEN HAS STELLAR START: Jarred Hippen threw a gem against No. 3 Texas on Mar 12th. The southpaw went eight and one-third innings (one out shy of his career best) and struck out eight Longhorns allowing only one run on five hits. He got a no decsion. On the spring trip, Hippen received a no decision and a loss. The loss came to Texas Pan American. He allowed two earned runs on eight hits in five innings with two Ks.
KENYON GETS A `W': Zach Kenyon got his first two starting nods on the spring trip in Texas. Despite getting hit with the loss against No. 3 Texas, the junior allowed only three earned runs with a career-best six strikeouts in five and two-third innings. Kenyon earned the win against UTPA, pitching six solid innings allowing three runs on six hits with three strikeouts.
MULLER IS BACK: Junior leadoff hitter Kurtis Muller is back to his freshman all-American form. After a sophomore season of injuries Muller is leading the Iowa offense. Muller leads the Hawkeyes, offensively, in batting average (.400), at bats (65), runs (15), hits (26), doubles (7), triples (2), total bases (37), slugging percentage (.569), walks (7), stolen bases (8) and fewest errors (0).
WEEKEND RECAP: The Hawkeyes concluded its 18 road games with eight games on its annual spring trip. Iowa faced No. 3 Texas, UTSA and UTPA. Iowa ended the trip, 1-7. The Black and Gold went 1-2 against UTPA. Iowa dropped the first two: 7-4 and 13-2 before breaking a nine-game losing streak with a 10-3 victory over the Broncs. Leading Iowa in the series was Kurtis Muller and Iowa's bullpen. Muller went 5-for-9 with a double, two RBI and three runs scored. The Hawkeye bullpen featured Patrick Brennan, Matt Dermody, Michael Jacobs, Kevin Lee, Jeff Pacha, Ricky Sandquist and Patrick Schatz. Iowa was scheduled to face UTSA twice, however due to rain, the two teams were only able to play one. The Hawkeyes fell 4-2. Iowa was swept by No. 3 Texas in a four-game series at Austin, TX. The Hawkeyes dropped the sereis opener 2-1 in extras. The game featured an outstanding performance from starter Jarred Hippen. The lefty went eight and one-third innings before allowing a solo shot, to tie the game. The Hawkeyes played the Longhorns close the next two games, losing 3-1, 5-2 but let the last one get away from them, losing, 18-0.
STACKING UP IN THE BIG TEN: The Hawkeyes rank sixth or higher in these Big Ten offensive statistical categories: triples (2nd), hit-by-pitch (3rd), sacrifice bunts (2nd), sacrifice flies (6th) and stolen bases (6th). The Iowa pitching staff ranks in the top five in: opposing batting average (2nd), saves (4th), earned runs allowed (5th) and home runs allowed (3rd).
WHERE THE HAWKEYES RANK: Kurtis Muller and several Hawkeyes making a splash in conference statistics. Muller ranks in the top ten in; batting average (9th), doubles (4th) and fielding percentage (1st.) Sean Flanagan ranks fourth in hit by pitches and Phil Keppler is tied with Muller for first with no errors. Phil Schreiber ranks in the top ten in opposing batting average (6th) and games started (1st). Jarred Hippen ranks in batters struck out looking (3rd), innings pitched (6th) and games started (5th). Zach Kenyon has the eighth lowest opposing batting average, Patrick Schatz has the fifth most appearances and Kevin Lee is second in league saves.
IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL: Sophomore Jarred Hippen has both of Iowa's longest outings. The southpaw went eight and one-third innings against No. 3 Texas. Despite earning a no decision, he struck out eight batters. Hippen tied a career best in his win against Rutgers. His eight and two-third innings performance was the longest the hurler had ever gone. (The last time a Hawkeye went eight and two-third innings was Nick Brown against Indiana Apr. 10, 2009). Hippen has recorded two eight strikeout games, one shy of his career best (9, Michigan in 2009).