116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Everyone in the Banks Field stands wanted it Friday. Everyone on the Iowa baseball team wanted it.
Hawkeye pitcher Adam Mazur was one out from his second-straight nine-inning shutout as he faced Purdue’s Troy Viola with runners at second and third base.
You don’t see pitchers throw back-to-back shutouts very often in college ball. Or in minor-league or major-league ball. You seldom see anyone even throw consecutive complete games.
But here was Mazur, fresh off a two-hit blanking of Nebraska a week earlier in Lincoln, trying to finish off another shutout. However, Viola lined a single to score both runners, cutting Iowa’s lead to 5-2.
Which ended Mazur’s day. He got a loud and sustained standing ovation from the crowd of 826 after he was taken out of the game. Reliever Ben Beutel got the final out to preserve the win for Mazur and the Hawkeyes.
It was another in what has become a long string of pitching gems from Mazur. In six Big Ten starts, Mazur is 4-1 with a brilliant earned run average of 1.35.
He has worked 46 2/3 innings in league play and allowed just 25 hits and eight walks. The league is hitting .154 against him.
Mazur is on track to be Iowa’s second-straight fBig Ten Pitcher of the Year following the exceptional season Trenton Wallace had in 2021.
“He just gets guys out,” said Hawkeye second baseman Izaya Fullard. “There’s no other way to put it. He’s a really good pitcher.”
Seventy of Mazur’s 96 pitches Friday were strikes. I’m not sure he had a three-ball count until the ninth inning when he surrendered a walk.
“He hasn’t walked anybody in a month,” Iowa Coach Rick Heller said after the game. That wasn’t entirely accurate, but was close enough.
Give Heller and pitching coach Robin Lund credit for seeing the potential in this pitcher. Mazur, from Woodbury, Minn., decided to leave South Dakota State after two years. He had been 3-9 with a 5.50 ERA in that time. Heller saw an ace, says he expected what Mazur has given his team.
“And when you’ve got an ace, a front line guy like that, that’s what you want out of your Friday guy. That’s always the goal, at least here to recruit and have a Friday night guy that you don’t really have to go to the pen very often, or if you do, it’s a short stint, not a long one.”
Heller was asked Friday what he saw in Mazur that made him think the pitcher could be a major-college winner.
“It was a fast arm, an electric arm, a really good slider,” Heller said. “Lots in the tank to work with. And a guy that competes.”
Mazur has no arrogance about him. He was quick to praise his teammates’ hitting and defense after Friday’s game. But he, too, doesn’t sound surprised at how dominant he’s become.
“I knew once I got on campus, Robin and the coaching staff would develop me to kind of what I expected of myself,” he said. “So it’s been nice to come into the limelight with that.”
The same is true of baseball now as it was a century ago. Good pitching gives you a chance for big things. Iowa took an 11-5 Big Ten record into its game with Purdue Saturday, positioned to stay in contention for the conference title and make a run at an NCAA tourney berth.
It’s largely because the Hawkeyes had a 3.00 team ERA in league play entering Saturday, over a full run less than any other team and over two runs less than 11 of them.
It starts with the ace opening three-game weekend Big Ten series by going deep into games and keeping his team’s bullpen from burning out.
“I just want to go out there and give the team the best chance to win,” Mazur said.
It sounds like a cliche Crash Davis would have taught Nuke LaLoosh in “Bull Durham.” But unlike the wild, flame-throwing Nuke, Mazur puts the ball in the strike zone time after time.
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