Iowa baseball opens Big Ten play with series win at Michigan
Iowa clinches series with 10-3 victory in Sunday's rubber match
By Pat Harty
Yes, it’s just one three-game series and hardly reason to get carried away.
But the Iowa baseball team certainly made a statement by winning two of three games against Big Ten preseason favorite Michigan on the road, and by only allowing seven runs combined in the three games.
The combination of timely hitting, power hitting, solid defense, and dominant starting pitching, was too much for Michigan to overcome as Iowa prevailed 10-3 in Sunday’s rubber match and outscored the Wolverines 18-7 in the three games.
Even the game on Saturday that Iowa lost 2-0 in the second game of a doubleheader, the Iowa pitching was spectacular on a day when the weather in Ann Arbor, Michigan was far from it.
From Dylan Nedved and Adam Mazur on Saturday to Ty Langenberg on Sunday, Iowa benefitted from having three quality starts on the mound, and with exception to game two in the series, the offense did its part.
Langenberg finished with 11 strikeouts over 5.2 innings in Sunday’s game.
Iowa has a 14-10 overall record and will face Bradley on Wednesday in Peoria, Illinois before returning home to play a three-game series against Illinois beginning next Friday.
Iowa has now won back-to-back series after having won two of three games against Central Michigan last weekend in Iowa City.
“It was a great day and a great weekend,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said after Sunday’s win. “It was the best baseball we’ve played all year, three games in a row, coming off a good win against Central Michigan. It was good to see. We got three quality, dominant starts. I am proud of the guys.”
True freshman Sam Petersen and redshirt freshman Keaton Anthony both continue to produce at the plate, along with sophomore first baseman Peyton Williams and sophomore shortstop Michael Seegers.
Iowa finished with 14 hits in Sunday’s victory as Petersen blasted a solo home run in the third inning, and then Anthony followed with a 3-run shot in the sixth.
Iowa struggled at times leading up to conference play, including losing to Division III Loras College at home.
The pitchers allowed too many free bases, and the offense was inconsistent.
There was no magic cure besides throwing strikes and getting timely hits, including some with power, and that’s what Iowa did against Michigan.
Iowa is also getting healthier, helped by the return of senior Izaya Fullard, one of the team’s top hitters. He has been out with a hand injury, but if his performance against Michigan is any indication, Fullard is getting healthy at the right time.
If beating Michigan at home wasn’t challenging enough, Iowa also had to overcome horrible weather conditions for baseball. Friday’s game was cancelled, forcing a doubleheader on Saturday.
It now seems pretty obvious that Iowa handled the conditions better than Michigan did.
And while Iowa’s starting pitching was impressive, so, too, was the bullpen for the most part.
It’s hard to find much wrong with a pitching staff that allowed just seven runs over three games against a quality opponent that was playing at home.
Rick Heller has been waiting patiently, and maybe not so patiently at times, for his pitchers to stop giving up free bases, and he was rewarded this weekend.
The challenge now for Iowa is to build on this series win, and show that it will be serious factor in the conference race.
T6 | @keatonanthony05 leaves the park for the 3-run shot!
Iowa 7, UM 0 pic.twitter.com/S5x1JZDRVH
— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) April 3, 2022