By Adam Hensley
Northern Illinois heads to Banks Field today for a 4:05 p.m. baseball showdown, but for Iowa, it’s just another midweek test before looking toward Minnesota, which has only lost one conference game so far this season.
But before the Hawkeyes clash with their Maroon and Gold border rivals, they will be face-to-face with the Huskies, who are 11-23.
Looking at the numbers, Iowa can exploit Northern Illinois in a number of categories tonight.
Northern Illinois opponent batting average: .304
The Huskie pitching effort hasn’t been great this season, to say the least.
Northern Illinois gives up 6.6 runs per game along with its .304 batting average, and Iowa, hitting at .271, might see the runs come in as easily as they did in a 16-1 win over Coe College in its previous midweek contest.
While Iowa has solid hitting up and down the lineup, the quartet of Tyler Cropley, Robert Neustrom, Chris Whelan, and Lorenzo Elion could have themselves a field day.
Cropley, Neustrom, and Whelan are all hitting above .340, combining for 110 hits, and they have not showed any signs of slowing down.
Elion could be the man to watch for; he was on quite the hot streak before the Nebraska series. Elion churned out a full cycle in Iowa’s win over Coe, recording a single, a double, a triple, and two home runs — the second time he went yard, he tied the school record for hits in a single game.
Hawkeye strikeouts: 291
Iowa’s pitchers, mainly Nick Allgeyer and Brady Schanuel, have been throwing K’s after K’s while on the mound. Allgeyer leads the Hawkeyes with 53 strikeouts, while Schanuel follows closely behind at 49.
Neither of those Hawkeyes will see time on the mound today, though. As it has done in previous midweek contests, Iowa will likely go with a handful of arms.
Head coach Rick Heller has called upon Trenton Wallace five times to start this season, and he’s delivered, striking out 19 batters in his 17 innings pitched. Hawkeye fans can also expect to see action from Cam Baumann and Jack Dreyer, who have combined for 33 K’s.
Huskie batters have struck out 269 times this season. Hunter Bross leads the unflattering statistic with 40 strikeouts.
Banks magic: 11-3 record
The Hawkeyes perform up to fans’ expectations while playing at home, finding more ways to win than one.
Iowa’s midweek game’s haven’t been so easy as the win over Coe (Iowa needed a walk-off grand slam to take down Bradley earlier this season), but regardless, the Hawkeyes have only lost one midweek game at Banks Field this season, a 7-6 loss to St. Louis on March 20.
Since then, the Hawkeyes have only dropped two home games and have won their last three.
In the nonconference, Iowa boasts a 15-7 record (home and away), while Northern Illinois is 8-12 in out-of-conference matchups.
11-1 when holding opponents between 0-2 runs
Defense wins championships, or at least that’s how the adage goes.
The Hawkeyes have only one loss on the year, a 2-1 defeat against Ohio State on April 7, when holding opposing teams to 2 or fewer runs. Twice during midweek games, Iowa has held opponents to just a single run.