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The Box Score: Hawkeyes vs. Northwestern

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | APRIL 17, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa baseball team will try to keep things rolling in the Big Ten this weekend when it plays host to Northwestern in a three-game series at Banks Field.

The Hawks have dominated conference play so far this season, posting a 8-1 record, including back-to-back sweeps over Indiana and Purdue at the beginning of the conference season. 

Team batting average: Iowa: .268, Northwestern: .278

Iowa’s bats have been inconsistent for much of the first half of the season, relying more on a dynamic and incredibly deep pitching staff to scratch out wins.

In a breakout performance Wednesday against Cornell College, the Hawkeyes smacked 12 hits for 9 runs in the victory, but we’ll have to wait and see if that is the start of a more consistent offense or simply the latest peak in an up-and-down season at the plate.

Junior Tyler Peyton and senor Eric Toole have been Iowa’s most reliable bats in 2015, hitting .351 and .333, respectively.

Should the like of Dan Potempa, Kris Goodman, and Nick Roscetti find their groove at the plate and even out the middle of the Iowa lineup, the Hawks could potentially boast one of the deepest lineups in the Big Ten.

Opposing Batting Average: Iowa, .223 (first), Northwestern, .311 (14th)

Northwestern is a spectacularly average-to-below-average ball club in just about every sense of the phrase, and while its hitters have clicked bit more than the Hawks, the Iowa pitching staff has an undeniable edge against the Wildcats.

A bevy of new arms have bolstered an Iowa bullpen, which was depleted by injury and roster turnover a season ago, and the progression of starters Peyton and Blake Hickman from solid to spectacular over the summer have given Iowa a pitching staff that really can’t be rivaled by any team in the Big Ten.

Peyton, Hickman, and junior Calvin Matthews all rank in the top-20 in ERA in the conference, and Iowa as a team has allowed the fewest hits against  (245) of the 14 teams in the conference.

Fielding Percentage: Iowa: .979 (first), Northwestern: .956 (14th)

For as dominant as Iowa’s pitchers have been this season, and they certainly have been excellent, the Iowa defense is just as much to thank for the low offensive totals other teams put up against the Hawkeyes.

Iowa has one of the most veteran and experienced teams in the Big Ten, and that experience has made the defense incredibly stingy this season.

Simply put, Iowa doesn’t make mistakes. Lowest in the conference in errors with 16, every member of the Iowa infield has the speed and anticipation needed to read and react quickly.

Of course, it helps that they return largely the same infield from the breakout season they had last year to complement the vastly improved pitching staff the team added in the off-season.

What’s more, they’ve given up the fewest stolen bases (14) and are tied for the third fewest home runs against of anyone in the conference.


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