Baseball seasons are unique. There are so many games that it's hard to feel like any one game means anything and yet there are times when a win absolutely feels like it's worth more than just the one notch in the W column. This weekend was one of those weekends for the Hawkeyes. Iowa took two of three from #8 Rutgers last week and controlled the Scarlet Knights handily in both wins. There are no trophies for regular season wins, but the pair of victories should be a huge confidence and momentum boost for the Hawkeyes as they march to the postseason.
- After starting the week with a convincing 15-8 win over Bradley (which included a casual cycle from Peyton Williams), the Hawks took two of three from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights last week in a convincing show of what this Iowa team can be when they're firing on all cylinders.
How was your Tuesday night?@peyton_w2 was pretty good... it included a -- the first by a Hawkeye since 2018 -- against Bradley! He also tied the single game school record with five hits! #Hawkeyes pic.twitter.com/B8pPb2AkZL— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 20, 2022
- Game 1 was a hard-fought grind 'em out game until the Hawkeyes plated two in the 8th inning to pull away and earn the 4-1 win. Adam Mazur tossed another great game, striking out 11 over eight innings while giving up only six hits and the one run. It's his second straight eleven-strikeout start and he is showing all the signs of being an all-conference talent. Brendan Shar gave the Hawks an early 1-0 lead with a 2nd inning solo shot, but Rutgers answered in the bottom of the same inning. Izaya Fullard scored to give Iowa a 2-1 lead in the 4th inning and then came up with a huge two-run homer in the 8th inning to give Iowa some much-needed breathing room. The Hawks didn't have a lot of offense, but they came through when it counted and were able to secure a huge Top-10 win.
- Game 2 was a much more dominant effort for Iowa. Propelled by a five-run 6th inning and another 8-inning effort from their starter, Iowa routed Rutgers 12-2. Connor Schultz pitched eight innings of two-hit ball, while the offense scored early and often. Keaton Anthony drove home two in the third as part of Iowa scoring four runs in the first five innings. The 6th inning was where Iowa did most of their damage. Iowa loaded the bases and then scored on a sac fly, walk, and a two-run single. They added one more in the 6th inning along with a run in the 7th inning and two in the 8th inning to finish off the 12-2 series-clinching win.
- Schultz's big performance earned him Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.
Schultz pitched a gem, scattering two hits and fanning six over eight shutout innings to shut down No. 8 Rutgers... the RHP is the B1G Pitcher of the Week!@conschultz7 | #Hawkeyes— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 27, 2022
LINK: https://t.co/aP2SBLmias pic.twitter.com/UWno4iuozF
- The Hawkeyes put a hurting on the Rutgers pitching Saturday, but the story of the series was Iowa's pitching. Rutgers has one of the nation's best offenses and Iowa's starting combo of Mazur and Schultz completely stifled them. The bullpen has been a weaker, if improving, part of the team, so getting long quality starts out of the starters is huge to Iowa performing at their best. Rutgers took the finale in convincing fashion (10-4), but there is no doubt that the weekend was a statement performance for the Hawks. The latest bracketology now has them listed as a #3 seed in their pod after being out of the tournament just a few weeks back. Again, baseball will make a fool of you if you try to generalize a team based on a single game or series, but a peek under the hood shows a lot of positive signals for this Hawkeye group and they were on display last weekend in New Jersey.
Track and Field
- In what has apparently become just another normal week for the Hawkeye track and field team, the squad set two more school records last week as part of the Musco Twilight meet.
- Nik Curtiss set the outdoor shot put school record last week after setting the indoor shot put record earlier in the year. Curtiss' 20.04m toss is 5th best in the NCAA this year.
- Amanda Howe decided to join in on the fun, breaking her own record in the women's hammer throw. Her 62.92m throw won the meet.
- Other event winners on the weekend included Khullen Jefferson in the 400m (46.36), Kat Moody in the shot put (15.64m), Zack Pluff in the high jump (2.10m), and Peyton Wensel in the women's 200m (24.00).
- The Hawkeye track and field team continues to put on a show week in and week out. They have multiple highly ranked events on both the men's and women's sides and are going to make some noise once again in the postseason. They'll be back in action next week at the Drake Relays.
- The Iowa softball team traveled to Champaign last weekend to take on Illinois. All three games were hotly contested, but the Hawks were only able to come away with one win, a 7-3 extra-inning win on Saturday.
- The Hawks were actually up 3-1 heading into the 7th inning during the first game Saturday, but Illinois hit a clutch two-run homer to tie the game and force extra innings. After a scoreless 8th inning on both sides, the Hawks broke the game open with five in the ninth inning. It was a combination of solid contact and big booms, capped off by a Denali Loecker home run to pull away from the Illini. Loecker then finished the game on the mound to secure the win.
- Iowa had a tougher time in the second game Saturday, going without a hit through six inning. Down 5-0 heading into the final frame, the Hawks staged a frenzied comeback and nearly got over the hump. The Hawks plated four in the final inning including a two-RBI double by Grace Banes but were unable to find one more hit to score the tying run.