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Hawkeyes rich in catchers

BY IAN MURPHY | APRIL 22, 2015 5:00 AM

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While last season’s primary catcher, Jimmy Frankos, is slowly getting more playing time, the role of behind the plate has been passed between freshman Austin Guzzo and junior Daniel Aaron Moriel.
Each of Iowa’s top-three catchers has seen playing time this season, a good problem to have for the Hawkeyes.

Early on, it appeared to be Guzzo’s job; he has appeared in 22 games and started 13, most of them coming as the catcher when Iowa played weekend games in early season tournaments.

Moriel has played in 17 games, started 13, and emerged as Iowa’s primary catcher recently, starting all three games of the series against Northwestern as well as the midweek game against Cornell College.

There’s also Frankos, who has battled injuries, but has seen more action as the season has continued, often entering as a pinch hitter later in games for Moriel. Frankos has played in 23 games so far this season and started 13.

The depth at catcher has helped foster a pitching staff that owns the fourth lowest Big Ten ERA and has given up the least hits of any team in the conference.

Again, a rich man’s problem. If there’s any gripe for the Hawkeye catchers, it’s that they lead the Big Ten in passed balls with 18. Iowa catchers have thrown out 9 of 23 stolen-base attempts, and while that looks alarming at first, Iowa is last in the Big Ten in steal attempts against at 23.

The Huskies are coming

Northern Illinois is 14-24 this season and could provide Iowa a chance to get a tick in the W column that will offset the loss in the second game of Saturday’s double-header against Northwestern.

“We should’ve [taken] advantage from the get-go,” Moriel said. “Sometimes, they slip away, you don’t take advantage, but you have to learn from them.”

The upcoming learning experience came as a result of a 4-1 loss to the Wildcats that Iowa hopes to avenge against Northern Illinois.

In another sense, the Northwestern loss, which knocked Iowa to a half game back in the Big Ten, was a missed chance to keep pace with Big Ten leader Illinois.

“It’s an opportunity we lost,” senior Eric Toole said. “We just have to forget about it and keep moving forward.”

The key for a rebound performance after what is the equivalent to Iowa’s second Sunday loss of the season, as it has been in the past, will be getting the bats going again.

The approach to Northern Illinois, head coach Rick Heller said, won’t be any different than other midweek games this season.

“I like to get some different guys in the game which I think is important,” he said. “It can help you out down the stretch.

“You want to get a lot out of it, but on the other side, you want to win the game.”

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


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