116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY – Good teams never quit, which must make this Iowa baseball team good.
The Hawkeyes have a big weekend series at Indiana that begins Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. Games also are Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.
Iowa is coming off a dramatic 12-9 win Monday over Northwestern in which unheralded backup catcher Brett McCleary hit a walk-off, opposite-field three-run home run. Iowa trailed throughout the game, including going to the bottom of the ninth inning.
The Hawkeyes have won seven games this season in which they have trailed. They have outscored opponents by a combined 55-21 margin in the eighth and ninth innings and 57-21 in the eighth, ninth and extra innings.
“It makes you proud when you have a team that keeps fighting and doesn’t quit no matter what the situation is,” said Iowa Coach Rick Heller. “There is so much truth to the fact that if you keep playing and don’t look at the scoreboard and (don’t) focus on past results, the game will come back to you. We had guys that stepped up late in that game that had bad at-bats (previously).”
“We come out to play with the same energy, intent and focus every day, even though sometimes the result isn’t what you want,” said Iowa’s Zeb Adreon. “I think just playing hard and playing the right way every day, things tend to go your way more often.”
This is a big series. Iowa is 18-11 and in fourth place in the Big Ten Conference, Indiana is 18-8 and in third.
Nebraska leads the league at 20-7. Michigan is second with a 20-8 record.
Iowa won three of four games last weekend against Maryland and Northwestern and is 13-4 in its last 17 games. Indiana has won four in a row.
“We have all come so far since the beginning of the season,” said Iowa pitcher Cam Baumann. “Really, the hitters are starting to pick it up, too. Right now, I feel like everyone is on the same page and working together as a team. We couldn’t be in a better situation, honestly.”
Iowa sits fourth in the Big Ten in both batting average and earned run average. It has been a major turnaround for the offense, which ranked at the bottom of the conference in team batting average about a month ago.
Indiana’s pitching will represent a challenge for Iowa’s hitters, as the Hoosiers lead the Big Ten in earned run average (2.70), just about a run better than second-place Michigan. Indiana has allowed two runs or less in 11 games and has the Big Ten’s top two hurlers ERA wise in Gabe Bierman and McCabe Brown.
Iowa’s Trenton Wallace and Baumann are third and fourth, respectively.
“We play the game, some days it’s better than others,” Heller said. “Just try to get better every day and have a great approach. Focus on the process, play the game as hard as you can. At the end of the game, the scoreboard will tell you how you did. We’re not going to get caught up in ups and downs, peaks and valleys. Just try to play consistent baseball day in and day out.”
“Those first few weekends, really nobody on our team played well,” Baumann said. “And we’re still fighting in games, could have won some of those games that we lost. Honestly, right now I wish we could get those games back and replay those games. Because I definitely think there would be some way different outcomes than what they were.”
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