By Adam Hensley
Everything is coming together for Iowa baseball, and it’s coming at the perfect time, with Coe College heading to Banks Field today.
“I feel like everybody as a whole is in that right mindset, and the results are speaking for themselves,” Hawkeye pitcher Cole McDonald said.
Iowa has won five of its last seven games, taking down then-No. 22 Illinois twice, toppling Grand View in a midweek contest, and defeating Ohio State twice to move to 5-3 in Big Ten play.
The Hawkeye has defense clamped down recently as well; in its last five games, Iowa has given up an average of 2.4 runs per game.
Iowa’s pitchers have been clicking, and that bodes well for yet another midweek non-conference matchup. The Hawkeyes gave up 2 runs in their first game against the Buckeyes on April 7, then followed that day up with a 1-run game in the series finale on April 8.
“I think we’re starting to kind of get a feel, a tempo, as a team right now — a little rhythm,” McDonald said. “Hopefully, we can keep that up. At the beginning of the season, we were kind of hit-and-miss, but now, I feel like everyone’s on board.”
McDonald and pitcher Zach Daniels combined for 11 strikeouts in Iowa’s 2-1 win over Ohio State in the third game of the series.
In total, the Hawkeye defense gave up 8 runs on 21 hits, striking out 32 Buckeye batters in three games.
“When the offense is down, it seems like the pitching staff will pick them up and vice versa,” Daniels said.
The offense reciprocated in Game 2, when the defense wasn’t on par with what it displayed in the first game.
In that contest, Iowa gave up 5 runs on 10 hits, but the Hawkeye bats separated the Black and Gold from the Buckeyes. Iowa exploded for 7 runs in the first inning, giving its pitching staff some breathing room and more space to work with, boasting a 7-1 lead after the first.
Looking at today’s matchup against Coe, Iowa has a home-field advantage. When playing at Banks Field, the Hawkeyes are 10-3, having dropped only one non-conference home matchup (a 7-6 loss to St. Louis on March 20).
The Kohawks are 5-3 when playing away from Cedar Rapids and have won six of their last seven games.
Recently, Coe swept Luther in a three-game series. In the final two contests, the Kohawk offense was clicking, scoring 15 runs, while the defense found its rhythm, allowing only 3 runs.
In the last game, an 11-2 win, the Kohawk offense connected on 13 hits. The top of the Coe batting order was on fire; Kevin Delaney and Isaac Evans each recorded 3 hits, and Jordan Kaplan added a pair during his three at-bats.
Iowa was originally slated to travel to Peoria, Illinois, on Tuesday to play a game against Bradley, but because of weather conditions, the game was postponed.
“We should be playing in the summer,” head coach Rick Heller said after the snow-filled game against Ohio State. “At this point in time, three-quarters of the country is dealing with [bad weather].”
If the local weather holds true to the forecast, the game should be played in better conditions — the temperature around game time will be 60 degrees with cloud cover.