Iowa's Ben Norman and Matt Hoeg celebrate a run during game two of the Iowa-Penn State baseball series at Duane Banks Field on Friday, April 28, 2017. The Hawkeyes swept the rain delayed, late night double header, 4-2 and 8-2, respectively. (The Daily Iowan/Lily Smith)

Baseball reaches crucial series

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By Adam Hensley 

adam-hensley@uiowa.edu

Iowa baseball (29-17) gets another chance to move up in the Big Ten standings as Ohio State (19-30) travels to Banks Field for a three-game weekend series.

Today’s game will begin at 6:05 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for youth. For fans who cannot attend, the game can be viewed on BTN2Go.

Iowa, tied with Michigan for fourth in the conference, will play its second-to-last Big Ten series of the season against an Ohio State team sitting at 6-12 in conference play.

Recently, Iowa took care of business in East Lansing, Michigan, when it took two games from Michigan State.

Tyler Cropley’s single drove in the game-winning run in the top of the ninth, putting the Hawkeyes up 3-2 for good.

The third game proved to be a stark contrast from the previous matchup; the teams combined for 23 hits, more hits than in the first two games of the series.

After Iowa led 4-0 through three, Michigan State charged back, scoring 4 runs to cut the Hawkeyes lead to 5-4 headed into the ninth.

The Hawkeyes didn’t back down, however, and scored 4 runs of their own in the final inning.

“It was another close game heading into the ninth,” Heller said in a release. “It was good to see us break through and score some more runs.”

The Michigan State series, a momentum-builder late in the season, came after Iowa recorded a major confidence booster against Penn State, its first Big Ten series sweep since 2015 against Minnesota.

The Hawkeyes beat the Nittany Lions 4-2, 8-2, and 9-1. The final game featured Jake Adams’ 16th home run of the season. Adams’ homer was a cherry on top of a series filled with weather delays, time changes, and a double-header, which lasted until almost 1:30 a.m. on April 29.

“You just got to keep your composure,” Adams said. “If I would have let [my strikeouts] affect me, I probably would have went up there and struck out another time.”

Keeping said composure and momentum will be key for Iowa, even as it faces opponents with losing records.

Despite almost polar-opposite records, the Hawkeyes can’t afford to overlook the Buckeyes. As Hawkeye fans recall, they dropped two games to Rutgers, a team which Iowa should have taken care of on paper.

Anything can happen, especially late in the season.

Ohio State beat Oregon State, 6-1, on Feb. 24, and the Beavers are currently the No. 1 team in the nation. The Buckeyes also took games from Purdue, Michigan State, Nebraska, and No. 16 Michigan.

A sweep would do Iowa wonders in the conference standings. Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Maryland remain within a game or two of each other for the second spot in the Big Ten.

This all comes after the Hawkeyes found themselves sitting at 7-6 through their first 13 games of the season.

“Throughout the course of the year, I think this team’s grown a lot,” Matt Hoeg said after Iowa’s win against Penn State.

The Hawkeyes will travel to Champaign, Illinois, after their series with the Buckeyes. Ohio State and Illinois have combined for 13 Big Ten wins this season, just two more than Iowa has.

Even though the opponents aren’t as highly rated as previous foes, the stakes are at the highest they’ve been.

The opportunity is there, and realistically the Hawkeyes could very well sweep their remaining Big Ten opponents. Nothing is given, however, and Iowa needs to take care of business in order to fight for a top-three seed in the Big Ten Tournament.

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