Baseball finds a new lead

Baseball+finds+a+new+lead

After penciling senior Joel Booker into the leadoff spot for 34 of his team’s first 35 games, Iowa head coach Rick Heller shook things up this past weekend and may have found himself a new guy for the top of the order in the process.

Senior Tyler Peyton had been slotted in five different spots in the batting order this season but never the lead-off spot.

Peyton said he couldn’t remember hitting lead-off for any team, ever.

But as Heller, hitting coach Marty Sutherland, Peyton, and former leadoff man Booker took a deeper look at the numbers, they saw moving Peyton into the lead-off spot might be a good idea.

“It just makes sense because statistically [Peyton] is hitting like .489 when he leads off an inning,” Heller said. “And Booker was driving in more runs, so we decided to make the flip-flop.”

The move paid off against Michigan, with Peyton hitting lead-off for the final two games of the series.

He reached base six times in the two games, collecting 4 hits, working a pair of walks, and scoring 4 runs.

Booker, hitting in the 3-hole for the first time, had 6 hits in the two games and drove in a pair of RBIs in each game.

The first baseman might not be the prototypical lead-off man. But numbers certainly do not lie, and his production in that spot is undeniable.

Peyton said after his team’s 8-3 win Sunday he already feels good leading off.

“I like the lead-off spot,” Peyton said. “My best stats have come from leading off an inning, so I’m very comfortable with it. I might not look like an ideal leadoff guy, but I do feel comfortable there.”

The man on the other end of the switch feels right at home as well.

Booker said pitch selection is different hitting third, and he likes that.

“I liked hitting in the 3-hole,” he said. “Especially because you’re going to get more curve balls there, and I’ve hit the curve ball pretty well all year.”

With matchups against Grand View today and Nebraska-Omaha on Wednesday, Peyton and Booker will have more at-bats to settle into their new roles before Big Ten play picks up again.

Grand View will travel to Iowa City with a 24-14 record, having swept a double-header against Culver-Stockton last weekend but dropping four of its last six overall.

Freshman Cole McDonald will start on the mound for Iowa (18-19, 7-8 Big Ten) against the Vikings. McDonald has a 3-1 record in midweek contests this year, posting a 2.51 ERA and 16 strikeouts to go along with only 3 walks.

The Hawkeyes will be in action on Wednesday as Nebraska-Omaha visits Iowa City.

Omaha is 19-20 on the year playing in the Summit League. The Hawkeyes and Mavericks matched up earlier this season in Georgia during the Spring Swing at Lake Pointe, with Omaha coming away with a 3-2 victory.

Iowa was held to just 5 hits against the Mavericks in Georgia, and Friday starter C.J. Eldred was tagged with the loss after giving up 3 runs on 10 hits.

Freshman Zach Daniels and sophomore Nick Allgeyer both threw scoreless innings against the Mavericks in the first matchup.

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