116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Iowa Hawkeyes baseball team begins Big Ten Conference play this weekend with a three-game series at Michigan.
Iowa takes a 12-9 record into league play, though it has won six of its last eight games. That includes taking two of three last weekend over Central Michigan.
Freshman Sam Petersen had a two-out, two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to win the deciding game of the series, 4-2. Central Michigan had rolled Iowa the previous day, 10-1.
“The important part was us showing up and fighting today and giving good effort and wiping how bad yesterday was away. The fight was there and there was no giving up,” Iowa Coach Rick Heller said. “It was kind of winning ugly, but we’ll take it today.”
Let’s delve a little deeper into the rest of the season for Iowa and the Big Ten as a whole.
Conference play actually began last week, though weather played havoc. Illinois took two games from Michigan State, Purdue beat Ohio State in the only game they were able to play, Rutgers took two of three from Penn State and Michigan did the same with Nebraska.
Purdue has by far the best overall record in the Big Ten at 18-2. The Boilermakers were just 15-25 last season. Maryland has a 20-5 record, Rutgers 18-6. No Big Ten teams are ranked in the top 25 in the latest DI Baseball Poll, though Maryland is 23rd in the coaches poll.
Iowa has an RPI of 98 going into Big Ten play. Its best non-conference victory came at home over No. 7/6 Texas Tech, 6-3. The teams split a two-game series. The Red Raiders are the only team Iowa has faced that is in this week’s top 25. Iowa does not play Ohio State, Northwestern, Penn State or Maryland in the regular season.
The Hawkeye pitching staff has been really good so far. It leads the nation in strikeouts per nine innings (12.9) and is second in fewest hits allowed (6.13). Its team earned run average is 3.57, which ranks third in the Big Ten, behind Rutgers (3.27) and Purdue (3.15).
Iowa will go with a starting rotation this weekend of right-handers Dylan Nedved (1-2, 4.88 ERA) on Friday, Dylan Mazur (2-1, 3.82) on Saturday and Ty Langenberg (3-0, 2.31) on Sunday. Nedved is a senior who was a two-way player his first two seasons at Iowa but is strictly a pitcher this season. Mazur is a redshirt sophomore transfer from South Dakota State. Langenberg is a sophomore from Urbandale, one of 13 players on the roster from Des Moines or its suburbs.
Offensively, Iowa ranks 10th in the Big Ten in batting average (.263). Redshirt sophomore first baseman Peyton Williams is hitting a team-best .364, with nine doubles, five home runs and 16 RBIs. Redshirt freshman Keaton Anthony is hitting .347 with 11 doubles, three homers and 17 RBIs. The doubles total ranks second in the Big Ten.
Iowa has played without one of its most important guys in the lineup. Infielder Izaya Fullard has been limited to one game, two at-bats, because of a wrist injury. The senior from Iowa City West and Kirkwood Community College was a third-team all-Big Ten selection last season.
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