May 12, 2010
THE SETTING: Coming off of a series win at Penn State the Hawkeyes look to improve their position in the close conference standings. Iowa is currently one game out of fifth place and two out of first. The Hawkeyes play host to Ohio State in a three-game series at Duane Banks Field this weekend. The series opener is slated for Friday evening at 6:05 p.m. This will be the first of Iowa's final two home series this season. Admission is $3 for adults, while UI students and youths are free.
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 this weekend's games on AM-800 KXIC. The Voice of the Hawkeyes, Brent Balbinot will handle the play-by-play, while Steve Duncan and a few ex-Hawkeyes, will provide expert analysis. All three games will be broadcasted on the radio and online.
SCOUTING OHIO STATE: Ohio State is 25-19 with a 9-9 record in the conference. The Buckeyes play host to Ball State this evening after losing two games of a three-game series against Illinois at home last weekend. The Buckeyes hit .323 as a team and are led, offensively, by senior Zach Hurley. The leadoff hitter leads the team in hits (74), doubles (19), triples (3) total bases (117), slugging percentage (.613) and on base percentage (.448). The Ohio State pitching staff has a 5.02 ERA and are led by ace Alex Wimmers. He has a conference-best nine wins with 78 strikeouts in 67 innings pitched. Wimmers has missed his last two starts after injuring a hamstring April 30. Wimmers is being evaluated at this point on a series-by-series basis.
Z-ROB GETS HOT: Senior Zach Robertson has caught fire in his final season as a Hawkeye. After being moved to the bullpen he has become Iowa's middle reliever stopper. The lefty has only allowed five earned runs in his last 11 appearances. Robertson has also amassed a solid 35 K's in only 29.1 innings of work.
MULLER EARNS FIRST BIG TEN PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Kurtis Muller was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week by the conference office Tuesday. Muller shares the honor with Indiana's Alex Dickerson. The weekly accolade is the first of Muller's career and first for the Hawkeyes this season. Muller put on an offensive clinic in the final two games against the Nittany Lions. In the series finale, Muller collected a game and career-high five RBI, recording hits in his first five at-bats to tie the school single-game record. With the game tied, he blasted a three-run homer, his first of the season, to put the Hawkeyes in front to stay. The next half inning, he made a sliding catch into the wall to help preserve the lead. The native of Sun Prairie, WI, nearly hit for the cycle in Saturday's 9-3 triumph. He went 3-for-6 (single, double, triple) while registering two RBI. Muller ranks first in team batting average (.369), slugging percentage (.512), hits (62), stolen bases (21), walks (21), runs (43) and triples (5).
IOWA GETS SERIES WIN: Iowa took two of three games at Penn State last weekend, in its final conference road series of the season. The win was the second-straight away series win for the Hawkeyes (last was at Michigan). In the three-game series, the team hit a whopping .391 with a .548 slugging percentage. The offense was led by Kurtis Muller who went 9-for-16 with a double, two triples, a homer and eight RBI. Ryan Durant went 7-for-11 with two RBI. Phil Keppler picked up six RBI. The pitching staff featured strong performances from: Zach Kenyon, Zach Robertson and Nick Brown. Robertson and Brown each earned a win.
IOWA ADDS ST. AMBROSE: The Hawkeyes' final non-conference game of the season against Western Illinois has been changed. Iowa will now play St. Ambrose on Tuesday, May 18 at 6:35 p.m. at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport. The switch in opponents was necessary due to changes in Western Illinois' conference schedule after one of its student-athletes, Devin VanBrooker, died from injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident on May 4.
FINISHING AT HOME: Iowa will play its final seven games in the state of Iowa, including six Big Ten games. The Ohio State three-game series this weekend kicks off the Hawkeyes six home conference games to end the season. Iowa also hosts Purdue next weekend (May 20-22). The Hawkeyes boast a 10-5 home record. Iowa has only one non-conference game remaining, vs. St. Ambrose, played at a neutral site in Davenport.
McCOOL DOMINATES BIG TEN: Zach McCool has had stellar performances in Big Ten play this season. In conference play, the junior is ranked in the top 10 amongst other Big Ten players in the following statistical categories: sacrifice bunts (1st), stolen bases (3rd), on base percentage (9th) and batting average (8th). In Big Ten play he leads the team in batting average (.412), hits (28), on base percentage (.474) and stolen bases (7).
MULLER LACES FIVE: In the series finale at Penn State, Kurtis Muller tied an individual-game record after going 5-for-6. In the feat, the outfielder collected a game and career-high five RBI, recording hits in his first five at-bats. With the game tied, he blasted a three-run homer, his first of the season, to put the Hawkeyes in front to stay. Teammate Zach McCool tied the individual-game record earlier in the season. He went 5-for-6 from the leadoff spot for Iowa in its series finale against the Spartans. McCool's five hits ties a single-game school record, last achieved by former Hawkeye standout, Justin Toole, in 2008.
HAWKEYES SWING IT: Mike McQuillan is currently on a team season-best 12-game hit streak. The sophomore also leads the Hawkeyes with 21 multi-hit games, followed by Kurtis Muller (19) and Ryan Durant (18). Durant leads the way with 11 multi-RBI games and McCool has collected eight.
STACKING UP IN THE BIG TEN: When compared to the conference's best in overall games several Hawkeyes rank in the top 10. Kurtis Muller is tied for first in fielding percentage. The junior also ranks in triples (3rd), stolen bases (5th), on base percentage (6th) and runs scored (9th). Ryan Durant is first in sacrifice flies and seventh in doubles and Zach McCool ranks first in sacrifice bunts. Ace Jarred Hippen ranks in batters struck out looking (1st), innings pitched (4th) and ERA (7th), Kevin Lee ranks third in saves and Patrick Schatz ranks third in appearances.