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Baseball heads to Wolverine country

BY IAN MURPHY | MAY 01, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa baseball is on a five-game winning streak heading into a three-game series with the Wolverines in Ann Arbor, Michigan, this weekend.

With a school record 45 wins in the realm of possibility for the Hawkeyes, the Michigan Daily’s Ben Fidelman and  The Daily Iowan’s Ian Murphy talked baseball.

Fidelman: Your guy’s offense has been really consistent throughout the season; I guess, what’s stood out to you if you had to pick out one thing?

Murphy: Offensively, they play, I wouldn’t call it small ball, we’ve kind of taken to calling it Heller Ball after the head coach, but it really just focuses on getting men on base. You’ll rarely see a strikeout from an Iowa batter. They’ll get guys on base, and they’ll move them with sac bunts and sac flies … you don’t see a lot of two-RBI plays because everybody’s moving all the time.

Fidelman: It seems like everything’s consistent throughout, both offensively and throughout the pitching staff; do you think that’s the case?

Murphy: Yeah, I’d say so, Tyler Peyton, Iowa’s Friday starter, even when he’s a little bit off, he still gets at least seven innings. Then Blake Hickman, the Saturday starter, 96 mph fastball is just going to blow people away. And then Calvin Matthews — even when he’s a little off — he still locks it down pretty well. So very few mistakes from the starting pitchers, and then Luke Vandermatten is probably one of the best closers who I’ve seen, at least.

Murphy: Who can we expect to see starting this weekend [for Michigan] and what do you expect from them this series?

Fidelman: The usual — well, I guess it’s not usual. Coming into the year, it looked like the rotation would be Evan Hill, Keith Lehmann, and Brett Adcock, but Lehmann and Hill both were injured, so that then bumped our closer Jacob Cronenworth into the Friday-night role, so that’s Cronworth on Friday.

Then Saturday, it’s a freshman named Ryan Nutof, who I think could be in contention for one of the Freshman of the Year spots. He’s been getting a lot of honors for Big Ten Freshman of the Week, running with right about a 3.00 era. Then Brett Adcock, whose kind of struggled through some stuff this year; from what the coaching staff has been saying, and what he’s been saying, it’s kind of confidence issues, but he’s worked through those lately. He’s just a real power pitcher, sitting with 64 strikeouts on the year.

Murphy: You mentioned a closer moving into the starter role — is there any concern with the bullpen then?

Fidelman: The back end has kind of been nailing it down, usually. Something that I’ve seen is that the coaching staff doesn’t often usually bring pitchers in in high-leverage situations. I think that’s a college-baseball thing rather than a pro thing. I think it’s also, I don’t know — that’s not usually what you want is a young guy going in in a high-leverage situation, but they’ve been doing all right.

This is one of the big things when the move happened with Cronenworth moving to the starting role is the coaching staff said they wouldn’t have done that if they hadn’t had another guy on the back end they felt comfortable with.

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


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