April 1, 2010
THE SETTING: Iowa hits the road to East Lansing, MI, to open Big Ten play against Michigan State in a three-game series. The Spartans lead the conference thus far in overall record (17-4) and are unbeaten on their home turf with a perfect 5-0 record. Iowa enters this weekend winners of five of its last six games.
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 Michigan State series will be broadcast on the radio and online.
SCOUTING MICHIGAN STATE: The Spartans are 17-4 and are currently riding an 11-game win streak, including five straight at home. Michigan State, as a team, is hitting .326 and leads the league in walks, hit by pitches and stolen bases. Offensively, the Spartans are led by Jeff Holm and Eli Boike. Holm leads the team in batting average (.405), doubles (6), walks (20), on base percentage (.520) and stolen bases (16), while Boike leads the team in hits (35), triples (3), homers (3), slugging percentage (.625). Michigan State's pitching staff is led by starter AJ Achter. The Friday night starter has a 1.52 ERA and a perfect 3-0 record with six starts. The righty has a complete game under his belt and opponents are hitting .216 off him. Closer Kurtis Frymier is equally as tough. In nine relief appearances he has earned a 2-0 record with four saves. Opponents are hitting .185 off him.
STACKING UP IN THE BIG TEN: The Hawkeyes rank sixth or higher in these Big Ten offensive statistical categories: triples (6th), home runs (6th), hit by pitches (3rd), sacrifice bunts (1st) and stolen bases (4th). The Iowa pitching staff ranks in the top five in: opposing batting average (4th), hits allowed (4th) and home runs allowed (3rd).
THREE-GAME SWEEP: The Hawkeyes swept Western Illinois in three in their home opening series last weekend. With two come from behind ninth inning thrillers the Hawkeyes got their first sweep since 2007. (Iowa swept Indiana in a three-game home series.) In the series, Kurtis Muller went a stellar 5-for-11 with five runs scored, three RBI and a perfect 6-for-6 on the base path.
`Z-ROB' IMPRESSES: Left-handed hurler Zach Robertson had a career-best outing in the series-finale win against South Dakota State Wednesday night. The starter went a career-long sven innings and struck out a career-high 10 Jackrabbits. He allowed only one earned run on four hits. Robertson got a no decision.
HAWKEYES ARE STREAKIN': Junior Kurtis Muller is on a nine-game hit streak to lead the Hawkeyes, he also has amassed a team-best 11 multi-hit games, including four three-hit performances. Junior Kurt Lee has a season-best six-game hitting streak. The nine hole hitter leads the team with four multi-RBI games.1. Kevin Lee has four saves, which ties three others for first in the Big Ten. 2. Phil Keppler and Kurt Lee have heated up, offensively, for the Hawkeyes. Against South Dakota State the pair combined to go 6-for-16 with five RBI.3. Reliever Jeff Pacha has had a great start to the season. The southpaw has been most effective against lefties, who are hitting .077 (1-for-13) against him.
`Q' GETS GOING: After getting banged up a bit in Texas Mike McQuillan is starting to get back in the groove of things, offensively. The sophomore led Iowa's offense in the two-game series against South Dakota State. He went 5-for-8 with three runs scored, a double and a whopping .750 slugging percentage.
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 Hawkeye offense in batting average (.407), at bats (81), runs (20), hits (33), doubles (7), triples (2), total bases (44), slugging percentage (.543), walks (11), on base percentage (.489), stolen bases (15) and fielding percentage (1.000).
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. Pacha has the second lowest ERA on the staff (2.61) with six appearances tallying for 10.1 innings pitched and allowing three earned runs on seven hits with seven Ks.
COMEBACK KIDS: The Hawkeyes showed some life in the final innings throughout their five-game homestand. Iowa came back with fashion in three of the five contests, rallying to win. Iowa came back in the ninth inning in both a 4-3 and a 10-9 victory over Western Illinois. The first win was due to a Ryan Durant, who was hitless in his first four at-bats, clutch game-winning RBI with the bases loaded. The second was off the bat of Mike Corbeil. Corbeil came up with a game-winning pinch-hit two-RBI single with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to top the Leathernecks. It was only Corbeil's second hit of the season. The Hawkeyes also got a 6-5 `W' against South Dakota State in the bottom of the eighth Wednesday night. Iowa tied and recaptured the lead in the bottom half of the eighth, thanks to throwing errors by the pitcher and shortstop and an infield single.
KEPPLER SWINGS IT: Phil Keppler has the second-highest batting average on the team (.350). The redshirt sophomore went 3-for-7 with a double and two RBI against SDSU in Iowa's mid-week series. He also slugged a whopping .571 and played solid defense at first base for the Hawkeyes.
LEE `SAVES' ANOTHER: Closer Kevin Lee picked up his conference-leading fourth save against South Dakota State Wednesday evening. In the Hawkeye's five-game homestand, the righty appeared in three games, allowing no runs on two hits in two innings.
THE HAWKEYES STEAL: In the past five games, Iowa has stolen 16 bases. (16-for-21). On the year, the Hawkeyes have 41, which ranks third in the Big Ten. Leading the Hawkeyes is leadoff Kurtis Muller (15). Muller stole a perfect 6-for-6 against Western Illinois and Kurt Lee (7) went 4-for-4 in the three-game series. So far, 13 different Hawkeyes have recorded a theft.
WHERE THE HAWKEYES RANK: Kurtis Muller and several Hawkeyes making a splash in conference statistics. Muller ranks in the top ten in; batting average (5th), on base percentage (6th) and stolen bases (3rd). Sean Flanagan ranks second in hit by pitches and Mike McQuillan ranks fourth in sac bunts. Jarred Hippen ranks in the top ten in the following statistical categories: ERA (8th), innings pitched (4th), batters struck out looking (2nd) and games started (2nd). Phil Schreiber ranks sixth in opposing batting average and second in starts. Kevin Lee ranks first in saves and seventh in games finished. Michael Jacobs ranks third in games in relief in seven in games finished. Kurt Lee ranks fifth in assists while Phil Keppler and Kurtis Muller are tied for first in fielding percentage (1.000).