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Indiana baseball series preview: Iowa

Coming off of a wild 15-14 win at Indiana State on Tuesday, Indiana baseball is set to host Iowa for their first Big Ten series.

The 12-8 Hoosiers come into conference play hot after winning their last five, including a dominant four-game sweep of Canisius prior to Indiana State. They will look to continue their winning ways against an Iowa team that is 11-7, but on a winning streak of their own having won their last four.

A season ago, the Hoosiers split a two-game set against the Hawkeyes in Iowa City.

This time around, Iowa is coming to Indiana with little rest, having played a four-game series at home vs Cal State-Northridge and two home midweek games in wins over Simpson College and Chicago State.

The Hawkeyes aren’t as comfortable on the road as they are in Iowa City though. Iowa is .500 on the road this season with a 5-5 record. Their best wins came on the road though, taking two of three at Oklahoma State on the weekend of March 1.

Now let’s take a look at what Iowa brings to the table for the series.

Pitching

The pitching has been the key for Iowa as of late. During their winning streak the Hawkeyes are giving up 2.75 runs per game and no more than four runs in one game.

As a team, Iowa’s bullpen has been better than their starters, with two of Iowa’s three starters having above an ERA of five.

Iowa’s starting rotation goes as follows:

Friday: Cole McDonald

Saturday: Cam Baumann

Sunday: Grant Judkins

Despite being the third starter, Judkins, a junior righthander, has been excellent and far better than McDonald and Baumann.

Judkins has a record of 2-1 and an ERA of 1.52 while averaging six strikeouts per appearance. Judkins also has allowed only five extra base hits, including no triples or home runs.

McDonald and Baumann on the other hand have struggled mightily with the two holding a 5.12 and 5.47 ERA, respectively. McDonald, a senior, has a 1-3 record and leads the team in hits (26) and runs (17) allowed. 12 of the 26 hits have been extra base hits as well. Baumann, a sophomore, is 0-1 in five appearances. His opponents’ batting average is at .250.

The Hawkeyes’ bullpen has been solid with four pitchers having a sub-three ERA and five innings or more pitched. Freshmen Clayton Nettleton and Drew Irvine lead the way with a 1.50 and 1.59 ERA, respectively.

Hitting

The Hawkeyes as a team hit for an average of .269 with only 10 home runs on the year. During their winning streak the bats have been particularly strong, putting up five runs per game.

Iowa’s best hitters come at the top of the order with two-hole hitter and sophomore first baseman Izaya Fullard and junior catcher and clean-up hitter Austin Martin.

Fullard comes into the Indiana series on a roll, going 3-4 against Chicago State with an RBI. The sophomore is hitting for a .304 average with nine RBIs while striking out eight times and has taken seven walks on the year.

Martin supplements Fullard well in the clean-up role as he is hitting .317 on the season with two home runs and nine RBIs. He’s also only struck six times on the season.

Sophomore Tanner Padgett leads the Hawkeyes in batting average (for players with 30 or more at-bats) at .385 but has played sparingly since the team’s Oklahoma State series.

Padgett only had one at-bat in last weekend’s Cal State Northridge series. If Padgett were to get more of an opportunity against the Hoosiers this weekend that could provide an extra spark to Iowa’s bats.

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