WHO: #24 Iowa Hawkeyes (29-17, 11-7 B1G) vs Michigan State (17-30, 5-12 BIG)
Friday, May 10th – 6:05 PM CT
Saturday, May 11th – 2:05 PM CT
Sunday, May 12th – 1:05 PM CT
Ladies and gentleman, your Iowa Hawkeyes are now ranked #24 in the country after beating #25 UC Irvine in two of three games last weekend, winning their 6th series in a row. Iowa was picked to finish sixth in the Big Ten before the year started, but they currently sit in fourth, one game behind Nebraska who plays first-place Michigan this weekend. Michigan has rattled off 13 straight wins and it is looking more and more likely that they will win the conference. Iowa is 16-5 at home and 5-1 vs top 25 teams. They are squarely in the conversation for another NCAA Tournament regional bid, which you read more about here.
This weekend Iowa gets the chance to pad their win total as they take on Michigan State in their final home series of the season. Michigan State is terrible, and a sweep is needed. The Spartans are 5-12 in the conference and currently second to last in the league, in front of only Penn State. They have been swept by Arizona State, Connecticut, Nebraska, Michigan, and Rutgers. That said, if you are looking for a reason to worry, the Spartans have won seven of their last ten games.
With that in mind, and with it being the final home series of the year, we are going to focus on things that are not Michigan State.
- Mitchell Boe is still recovering from a nasty collision that happened in the Ohio State series. The collision left him with three fractures in his face. The good news is that Boe passed his concussion test this week and there is a chance he will return this weekend.
- Brendan Sher, Boe’s replacement at second base, has been nothing short of spectacular since taking over. He has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week two weeks in a row. Last weekend he hit .538 with a triple and four runs scored. In the last eight games he is batting .464. No matter what happens with Boe coming back, Heller will need to find a spot for Sher in the lineup, as he is on a heater at the perfect time of the year.
- Catcher Austin Martin was added to the Buster Posey Catcher of the Year Award watch list. Martin has slowed down a bit at the plate following a red hot start, but he is still hitting .308.
- Grant Leonard is one save away from tying the all-time Iowa record for saves in a season. He leads the Big Ten with 12.
- Iowa is one win away from winning 30 games for the 6th season in a row.
- This only slightly has to do with Iowa, but did I mention that Nebraska is falling apart down the stretch? They have lost seven of their last 11 games and Iowa is nipping at their heels in the Big Ten standings. The fans in Lincoln are growing restless and they may be looking for another former athlete to take over as head coach next season.
SENIOR DAY AT DUANE BANKS FIELD
Iowa has seven seniors that will be playing at Duane Banks field for the final time this weekend. This group of seniors has won 30 games in every season that they have played, so let’s take a look at their 2019 seasons and careers.
Mitchell Boe (IF)
Boe has started 166 games for the Hawkeyes over the last four seasons. Before getting injured in the Ohio State series, Boe was on pace to set a personal best in RBIs. He has 18 on the year and his career high is 26. He also has a career .973 fielding percentage and never made more than six errors in a season.
Luke Farley (OF)
Farley has started 34 games for the Hawks and appeared in 91 total games. During his freshman season, he had 12 RBIs on 11 hits.
Cole McDonald (P)
The senior pitcher has been on another level during the second half of his senior season. He has gone more than six innings in his last seven starts and has only given up six runs total in his last five starts. For his career, McDonald has started 42 games, thrown 193.2 innings, and has a 4.14 ERA. He has struck out a total of 183 batters and has set a personal record this year with 63. McDonald will make his final start at home on Friday.
Tanner Wetrich (IF/OF)
Wetrich enters his final home games tied for second on the team with five home runs. He is fourth on the team in RBIs and third on the team in runs scored. Wetrich has started 62 games over the last two seasons and appeared in 79 games total. He has scored 28 runs this year, which is double what he scored last season. Wetrich has also stolen 11 bases as a Hawk, with eight of them coming in 2019.
Shane Ritter (P)
Ritter has been used out of the bullpen for most of his Hawkeye career. He has thrown 74 innings in 64 appearances and holds a career 4.84 ERA. In four seasons he has struck out 58 batters.
Jason Foster (P)
In his first season with the Hawkeyes, Foster has appeared in 20 games and thrown 21.2 innings. He picked up a save during Iowa’s trip to Hawaii, throwing two innings in a 10-8 win.
Chris Whelan (IF/OF)
Chris Whelan has been one of the best in the Big Ten at getting on base this year. His on-base percentage is third-best in the conference at .462. He is also tied for third in walks with 32 and has been hit by 11 pitches. He enters the final home series of the year having gotten at least one hit in seven of his last eight games. Whelan has been great for Iowa the past three seasons, starting 135 games and hitting .304.
We will post updates for the MSU series in the comments, but feel free to join in too!