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The Box Score: Iowa baseball and the Big Ten

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 21, 2015 5:00 AM

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The No. 21 Iowa baseball team is in a good position with only a month left of the Big Ten season. The Hawkeyes are 10-2 in the conference, only a half game back of first-place Illinois, ranked eighth in the poll.

The schedule does not get any easier for the Hawkeyes, however. A series is looming with Nebraska; afterwards, Michigan, Minnesota, and Rutgers await. To keep pace with the streaking Illini, the Hawkeyes will need to continue playing well in the conference.

ERA — 2.92 (fourth in the Big Ten)

To date, the Hawkeyes have the fourth-lowest ERA in the Big Ten and have allowed just 125 hits in conference play, good for third. As it currently stands, the only team left on Iowa’s schedule with a better ERA is Nebraska, third at 2.70.

In conference games, Iowa’s pitching staff has a 2.86 ERA, good for third, while Nebraska has a 3.43. Worth noting, however, Iowa is third in the Big Ten with 34 wild pitches, just one wild pitch out of first place. It is also third in hit batters with 45.

This weekend’s series will be pivotal for the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten race; Illinois has a date with Purdue, a team Iowa has swept and one that won’t pose much challenge to the Illini. Pitching, as always, will be a key part of the contest.

Fielding percentage — .979 (first in the Big Ten)

The Hawkeyes have passed the eye test in the field this season, and the statistics back up the defense. The Hawkeyes are the best fielding team in the Big Ten, with the highest percentage and the fewest errors. They have completed 30 double plays.

Iowa is tied with Nebraska for first in fielding percentage, while Big Ten leader Illinois is fourth with a .974 fielding percentage.

The important takeaway from fielding percentage is that the Hawkeyes don’t allow many balls in play. This factors in the pitching staff’s ERA but is also indicative of the job the Hawkeyes have done at keeping runners off the bases.

Batting average — .274 (seventh in the Big Ten)

The Hawkeyes are not a team built on power hitting, with a batting average in the middle of the pack in the league.

The Hawkeyes have had trouble clicking on all cylinders this season. With the exception of the first game of the April 18 double-header with Northwestern, the Hawkeyes have either had trouble hitting, trouble pitching or issues in the field, and on rare occasions all three. The most common struggle has come in the batter’s box.

In addition to being mediocre in batting average, the Hawkeyes have a slugging percentage of .362, placing them 10th in the conference.

It’s hard to score runs when the hits aren’t coming. However, Iowa has found ways to win, and the Hawkeyes have done so by getting on base well. The team has the fourth highest on-base percentage in the Big Ten at .367.

Pitch well, field well, and get on base. The Hawkeyes, to varying degrees of success, do all three, and that has kept them in the Big Ten race so far this season.

Follow @IanFromIowa on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa baseball team.


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