By Adam Hensley
Over last weekend, Hawkeye baseball lost its first Big Ten series in six tries, dropping a pair of games in a three-game series against Minnesota.
Iowa tallied just 8 runs in the three games, while getting shut out in one of those contests, and averaged 7.3 hits per game over the stretch.
Iowa throttled Milwaukee in its midweek game, taking down the Panthers, 12-4, in a game that wasn’t in question after Iowa broke a 2-2 tie after the first inning.
“I knew with the lineup that [Milwaukee] had, we didn’t want to be in a close situation,” head coach Rick Heller said. “To sit back and be able to have a big lead definitely did feel good.”
Wednesday was a breath of fresh air for Heller and Company, who had more runs in the one game against Milwaukee than it did in all three Minnesota contests combined.
“It builds a lot of confidence, just seeing guys come around, finally start swinging well,” Cropley said. “We’ve been putting good swings on balls, they just weren’t falling. It’s good to see a few of them fall.”
The sky wasn’t falling by any means — no one was hitting the panic button — but Iowa’s first conference series loss of the season didn’t come at an opportune time.
“We didn’t have a great weekend at Minnesota offensively,” Heller said. “But on the other hand, we saw really good pitching. So you got to tip your hat there.”
Big Blue is right on the horizon, and that’s something the Hawkeyes are well aware of; Michigan comes into this weekend’s matchup as arguably the hottest team in the country.
“We know they’re on a pretty good winning streak,” Lorenzo Elion said. “We love that — we love playing for these type of moments.”
Elion is right; Michigan is on a pretty good win streak (the Wolverines are winners of 20-straight games, to be exact).
On paper, it’s not shaking up to be a complete David-and-Goliath match — Michigan is 11-0 in conference play, while Iowa hovers one game above .500 — but the Hawkeyes aren’t backing down.
The players and coaches made on thing clear: Iowa’s main mission is to be that team to snap the monumental run. With the three-game series hosted at Banks Field, a venue in which the Hawkeyes don’t go down easily without a fight, there’s a legitimate upset energy surrounding the team.
Iowa is 12-3 at home this season, with its three L’s coming from St. Louis, Indiana, and Ohio State. But that loss to Ohio State on April 7 was the last time the Hawkeyes dropped a game at Banks Field.
Despite snagging a win in Minneapolis, the Hawkeyes needed a convincing win. Not only does it build momentum, but it pushes past losses that much further away.
A Tribe Called Quest said it best: “You inhale like a breath of fresh air.”
And that’s just what the Black and Gold did on Wednesday.