Iowa heads to Rutgers

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | MAY 14, 2015 5:00 AM

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After closing out senior weekend with a sweep of the Minnesota Gophers Sunday, the Iowa baseball team will try to end its regular season on a high note when the team travels to New Jersey for a three-game series with Rutgers.

Ranked No. 13 in the latest USA Today poll, the Hawkeyes have yet to lose a series this season, and they will go for the clean sweep against the Scarlet Knights starting today.

At 37-12, the Hawks have an opportunity to hit 40 wins for the first time since Duane Banks led the Hawks to a 40-20 mark in 1985.

“To get the sweep against Minnesota and go into Rutgers on a positive note was huge,” senior Jake Mangler said. “It’s been a big thing for our success this year to stay on an even keel an just keep doing what we’re doing.”

The Hawks wrapped up last weekend having clinched the No. 2 overall seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

While the Hawks will not overlook Rutgers this weekend, head coach Rick Heller is proud of what his team has accomplished.

“Finishing second overall in the Big Ten, given how tough a conference it was this year, is a great accomplishment,” Heller said. “We’re probably going to have numerous bids to the NCAA Tournament, so it’s a big deal in my mind.”

Dominance over the Gophers in the series last weekend allowed Heller to rest some of his pitching staff that he had originally planned on playing.

A rested bullpen could prove to be Iowa’s ace in the hole against a Rutgers squad that has floundered near the bottom of the Big Ten standings throughout the season.

“It’s a one-game-at-a-time approach, but I guess I feel a lot better about going into this weekend because of the way we were able to manage our pitching staff,” Heller said. “We didn’t have to push any of our starters deep, so that was exactly what I wanted.”

The Hawks are riding a five-game winning streak that has seen the offense come alive, outscoring opponents 33-11 over the last five contests.

For many of Iowa’s players, they couldn’t have picked a better time to peak.

“I think we really have things clicking right now, pitching- and hitting-wise,” senior Eric Toole said. “Good approaches at the plate, and we’re executing on the mound, too. Everything is rolling right now.”

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

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