It was a quiet week in Iowa sports, so our weekly Olympic Sports Roundup is only a Hawkeye baseball check-in this week. Shoutout to Hawkeye track athlete Tionna Tobias though, who won two events (100m hurdles and long jump) last week at the Dr. Tucker Open.
On the diamond, Iowa welcomed in the Purdue Boilermakers for a hugely important series last weekend. After the Hawkeyes had a bad loss in mid-week against Illinois State, their postseason hopes became far more tenuous. What felt safe, if uncomfortable, was all of a sudden thrown very much into doubt. The Hawks needed to take care of business, as they will need to do for the rest of the season to secure a ticket to the postseason.
If momentum is the next day's starting pitcher, then Iowa couldn't ask for anyone better than Hawkeye ace Adam Mazur, who took the mound for the Hawks in game one. Mazur has seen his draft stock rise all the way into the first round and is getting first round buzz in a recent projection from baseball writer and analyst Keith Law.
Mazur has been dealing all season and he continued to do more of the same last Friday, pitching another gem. He went 8 2/3 innings and gave up only five hits. He held the Boilermakers scoreless until they had two outs in the ninth and at one point retired eleven straight batters. The Hawkeye bats did their part, putting together a five-run third inning to give Mazur more than enough run support. Keaton Anthony and Izaya Fullard continued to hit well, each driving in a run during the Hawks' big inning. Fullard went 3/4 on the day in the Hawkeyes' 5-2 win.
Check out the winning highlights from Friday, and check out the Hawkeyes Saturday at 11:00 (CT) at Banks Field or live on BTN! pic.twitter.com/HeBqatbtQQ— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 7, 2022
Game two was less successful for the Hawks on the mound. Purdue jumped on Iowa early, putting up six runs in the first four innings. Iowa battled back, scoring four of their own in the 4th inning on the back of a Keaton Anthony three-run bomb that made it 6-4. The bullpen wasn't able to hold the Boilermaker bats down, though, and they added another run in the 7th inning and three more in the 8th inning to put the game out of reach. Iowa plated a few more in the 8th inning but was never able to really make Purdue sweat. The Hawks fell 10-6 to even the series.
The Saturday loss made the Mother's Day rubber match massively important. Instead of folding under the pressure, the Hawks came out amped up and put the Boilermakers away early. Ty Lagenberg put together a masterful start, tossing seven innings and only allowing a single run, while the offense exploded for nine runs over the first five innings. It was Keaton Anthony again getting the offense going, launching a two-run 442-foot bomb in the first inning. Brendan Sher drove in two more (Anthony and Fullard) in the third and then the Hawks really got going in the 5th, scoring five more runs to take a 9-0 lead.
The defense came to play too. Sher made a pair of slick plays at third, which easily would have been the play of the day if not for Kyle Huckstorf's incredible diving catch in the third inning, taking runs off the board for the Boilermakers. Huckstrof's catch was the top play on SportsCenter on Sunday night.
The series win was exactly what the Hawks needed, but their work isn't done. In the latest postseason rankings, the Hawks were the 63rd of 64 teams in the tournament. Iowa needs to continue to take care of business and win the remaining series on their schedule (MSU and IU), and adding in a few conference tournament wins probably wouldn't hurt, either. The margin for error is razor-thin, but this team certainly has the talent (see: another pair of B1G weekly honors this week) to make noise in the postseason if they can get there. Here's hoping they get that chance.