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Peyton covers the diamond

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 08, 2015 5:00 AM

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It’s tough to define Tyler Peyton’s role for the Iowa baseball team.

You could call him a pitcher, and that would be accurate, but you could also call him a hitter, and that would be accurate, too. Then, you could call him a first baseman, and that would also be true.

The junior really can do it all. He pitched a complete game shutout for the Hawkeyes in their Big Ten opener against Indiana, and knocked in both of the Hawkeyes’ runs.

The next weekend, he pitched another eight innings against Purdue, giving up just 1 run.

“I really haven’t changed anything,” Peyton said. “I’m just going out playing for the team, trying to do whatever I can to help us win, and it has paid off so far.”

He leads the pitching staff in Big Ten play with a 0.53 ERA in his two starts — both victories. Overall, Peyton is 4-2 with a 2.17 ERA, second on the team behind senior Calvin Matthews.

Peyton said he hasn’t changed his approach and his pitches have been there each time he’s taken the mound.

“Having all three pitches working for me basically every time I go out has really helped,” he said. “Trying to locate with my fastball and keeping that off-speed down has been key.”

Pitching, senior Kris Goodman said, has been a consistent for the Hawkeyes in their 21-7 start this season.

“You look at those guys, Blake Hickman, Tyler, and Calvin, they’ve been outstanding,” he said. “I think our hitting is starting to come around, too.”

Peyton is part of that. Through the Hawkeyes’ first 28 games, he is second on the team with a .362 average, just .003 behind senior Eric Toole and second on the team with 34 hits. He also ranks second on the team in multi-hit games with 11 and third in multi-RBI games with four. He has a six-game hitting streak going.

At first base, Peyton has a .995 fielding percentage, the best among starters, and he leads the team with 181 put-outs. Most of that comes with the position, but Peyton has done his job when not on the mound.

The Hawkeyes will need Peyton, their Friday starter, in fine form for their date with Maryland this weekend. The Big Ten coaches picked the Terps — ranked No. 16 in the USA Today Coaches Poll — to win the conference.

First, however, is a matchup with Milwaukee, in which Peyton will see action at first base.

Nonconference wins will be a key for the Hawkeyes, whose goal is an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.

“We have a chance to compete for a championship and a chance to be in a regional,” head coach Rick Heller said. “The guys have played well to this point; they deserve the accolades that are coming at them, but we all realize we have two months to play, and this is the beginning.

Peyton is one of those guys, an all-around player who can, hit, field, and pitch with the best in the Big Ten, but he also understands his role on the team.

For him, there is no looking ahead at who is next or where he will play.

“Just trying to take it one game at a time,” he said. “Trying to win the next one and worrying about it when it comes to game time.”


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