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Buy or Sell: Iowa vs. Western Illinois

BY JACOB SHEYKO AND RYAN RODRIGUEZ | APRIL 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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Buy or sell: Iowa’s series against Northwestern should be considered a disappointment.

Sheyko: Buy. Iowa took two out of three games from Northwestern, but it’s the worst team in the Big Ten. With that loss, Iowa joined Minnesota as the only Big Ten teams to lose to the Wildcats.
Combine this with the fact that Iowa blew a 10-run lead in the first game of the series, and one should consider that series a disappointment. Had they won that game, it would have been the Hawkeyes first Big Ten series sweep of the season.

Rodriguez: Sell. While the Hawks managed to blow a 10-run lead in the seventh inning and lose the first game, 14-13, they stormed back in the April 12 double-header and showed everyone that they are still a force to be reckoned with.

They’re a team in its first year with a new head coach, and for the most part, the Hawks are just now learning what it takes to win on a consistent basis in the Big Ten. 

So while the loss was certainly alarming, it’s the sort of growing pains you would expect from a team with a brand-new coaching staff. 

Buy or sell: Iowa is better than its 5-7 Big Ten record may suggest.

Sheyko: Sell. In a perfect world, Iowa would have a couple of more wins under its belt. The Hawkeyes have lost four games by 2 runs or fewer, so in that sense, Iowa’s record may be a little deceiving.

But winning close games — to some extent — is a skill. And it’s one that Iowa has not yet fully grasped. Consistent relief pitching and opportunistic hitting will go a long way for Iowa to improve from a good Big Ten team to one of the conference’s elite.

Rodriguez: Sell. While I don’t think Rick Heller’s squad is necessarily worse than its conference record would show, I don’t think it seriously under values them either.

The Hawks have loads of talent, and if they continue to progress, they could emerge as a real threat come tournament time, but as of right now, they’re not quite there.

So in essence, a 5-7-conference mark is fairly telling so far.  They have had some impressive showings in losses against tough schools such as Nebraska and Michigan; however, the Black and Gold still have to find a way to rise to the level of their competition to earn some Ws.

Buy or sell: Iowa will pick up another nonconference win against Western Illinois.

Sheyko: Buy. Despite losing some close games and just flat out blowing a prime opportunity to pick up a Big Ten series sweep, Iowa is still playing arguably its best baseball of the season.

As the weather in the Midwest has heated up, so have the Hawkeyes’ bats. They’re no longer struggling with knocking runners in scoring position in, and their starting pitching has seemingly hit some stride of consistency. All in all, Iowa is the better baseball team.           

Rodriguez: Sell.  After a huge double-header sweep at Northwestern last weekend, the Black and Gold are in prime position for a letdown loss in classic trap-game fashion.

Blake Hickman will be on the mound for the Hawkeyes, and while he has a powerful arm, he struggled finding the strike zone for Iowa in his last appearance, as evidenced by his 7.15 ERA.


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