WHO: Iowa Hawkeyes (30-19, 12-9 B1G) at Maryland (25-27, 9-12 B1G)
- Thursday, May 16th – 5:30 PM CT
- Friday, May 17th – 5:30 PM CT
- Saturday, May 18th – 1:00 PM CT
Well, two weeks ago Iowa was beating the number #18 team in the country and claiming a spot in the top 25. They were 4th in the conference and had a great chance of finishing in the top half. Now, following a rough weekend in which they lost two of three to a very bad Michigan State team, Iowa sits in 6th place and needs one win over Maryland or a loss from Northwestern, Ohio State, or Rutgers to clinch a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. Iowa is more than likely going to make it to the Big Ten Tournament, but instead of being in position for a game against one of the bottom teams in the conference they could now end up playing against Nebraska, Illinois, or Indiana in the first round. Not great!
The good news is that Iowa gets to take on Maryland this weekend, a team that has struggled for most of the season. Maryland is 4-6 in their last 10 games and they were swept by Michigan and lost two out of three to Minnesota. The Terrapins currently sit in a tie for 10th play in the conference but are only a half game out of the eight spot, which is where they need to be to get to Omaha. Maryland still has life, which means they will most likely be a giant pain in the ass this weekend and make things difficult.
AT THE PLATE
Maryland right fielder Randy Bednar is the only Terp hitting over .300. He leads the team in hits (67), doubles (19), triples (2), RBIs (49), stolen bases (12), and is tied for the team lead with ten home runs. For reference, if Bednar played for Iowa he would lead the team in almost every offensive category. First baseman Maxwell Costes also has ten home runs on the season and is second on the team with 40 RBIs. The left side of the Maryland infield, made up of shortstop AJ Lee (not the former WWE Divas Champion) and Taylor Wright, have combined for 60 RBIs and eight home runs on the season. Both are hitting over .280.
The Iowa pitching staff is coming off of a ROUGH weekend, but not all is lost. Grant Judkins' 2.18 ERA still leads the Big Ten, and Cole McDonald has not lost any of his seven starts in conference play. Closer Grant Leonard will head into the weekend looking for his school record-breaking 14th save of the season. He has been nails for Iowa out of the bullpen, only allowing six runs in 29.2 innings.
Sophomore Cam Baumann is coming off one of his worst starts of the season against Michigan State. He failed to make it out of the fourth inning for the first time since only going 2.1 innings vs Indiana.
ON THE MOUND
Maryland will throw Hunter Parsons in game 1 of the series. He leads the Big Ten with nine wins this season and has a 3.74 ERA. Parsons has struck out 70 batters on the year. Game 2 starter Zach Thompson is 2-6 with a 5.28 ERA. He has gone six innings or more in five of his last six starts and has given up at least three runs in his last eight starts. Game 3 starter Tyler Blohm is 1-1 on the year and has a 3.27 ERA. Blohm has only made four starts on the year and has not gone more than four innings in any of the games. He is holding opponents to a .195 batting average but expect to see a lot of Maryland arms in the final game of the series.
Iowa enters the final series of the year with three players hitting over .300. Austin Martin is sitting at .311, Izaya Fullard is at .310, and Chris Whelan is at .301. Fullard and Whelan are both riding seven-game hitting streaks. Ben Norman continues to be a leader at the plate for Iowa, and while the batting average might not be great (.242) he leads the team in home runs (6), RBIs (32), and stolen bases (11).
Another positive from the Michigan State series is that Mitchell Boe was able to return to the field, going 2-4 with two runs scored on Sunday.
Around the Big Ten
Iowa sits in 6th place behind Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota. Nebraska hosts Michigan, Indiana gets a visit from Rutgers, Illinois travels to Michigan State, and Minnesota goes to Northwestern. Again, Iowa clinches a spot if they can simply win one game, or if Northwestern, Ohio State, or Rutgers lose a game. Iowa could finish anywhere from eighth to third place depending on how everything plays out. There are a million different scenarios so it would be really nice if Iowa could just take care of business and sweep the Terps this weekend. That sounds like a great plan, let’s do that.
We will post updates in the comments, but feel free to join in too!