The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Hawkeyes cut walking

Iowa infielder Austin Guzzo awaits the pitch at Duane Banks Field on Saturday, March 26, 2016. The Hawkeyes erased a 1-0 deficit in the bottom of the 8th scoring 4 runs to beat the Terrapins 4-1. (The Daily Iowan/ Alex Kroeze)

By Adam Hensley 

[email protected]

Iowa returned to its winning ways Tuesday at Banks Field, snapping a two-game losing streak with a tough-fought victory over Western Illinois, 4-1.

Looking closer at the numbers, Iowa’s solid pitching, major contributions from hitters in the lower half of the batting order, and consistency during midweek games this season jump off the page.

3 free bases combined

Elijah Wood, Grant Judkins, Drake Robison, and Shane Ritter walked only three against Western Illinois.

“A big reason we got beat Saturday and Sunday was that we gave up a lot of free bases on the mound; tonight, we didn’t,” Heller said after Tuesday’s game. “Basically every game, it doesn’t always work out this way, but when you give up a lot of free bases, there’s usually an ‘L’ on the other side of the column, and when you don’t, there’s usually a ‘W’ … the value of the free base was talked about quite a bit before the game [against Western Illinois.]”

When the Hawkeyes traveled to Evanston, Illinois, to go head-to-head with Northwestern, free-base opportunities put the Wildcats in prime position. In total, 12 batters reach base either by walk or by getting hit by a pitch.

In Iowa’s 7-5 loss on April 8, Ryan Erickson gave up 5 runs in the fifth inning, but his 2 walks led to the Wildcats reaching scoring position; both batters who walked scored.

The next game, a 6-5 loss, featured four Northwestern batters getting hit by pitches.

Against the Leathernecks, Wood, Judkins, Robison, and Ritter hit nobody.

Heller cited his pitching unit’s ability to throw in the strike zone as a major factor, and Wood agreed — his best work came on his fastball.

“I thought I could spot pretty well,” he said. “My changeup was running pretty good, and [my] curve ball was there.”

First five batters: 3-for-17 

Chris Whelan, Mason McCoy, Jake Adams, Robert Neustrom, and Ben Norman combined for only 3 hits in their 17 at-bats.

McCoy and Neustrom were the only batters to record at least 1 hit in that group.

In its two losses to the Wildcats, Iowa’s top-five group finished with more than double the number of hits against Western Illinois. The five batted 7-for-22 on April 8 and 8-for-21 on April 9.

Iowa’s main offense came from the bottom of the order; Tyler Cropley, Mitchell Boe, Austin Guzzo, and Matt Hoeg compiled 4 of Iowa’s 7 hits and all 4 of the team’s RBIs.

“Hoeg and Boe have been swinging it well lately,” Guzzo said. “Cropley’s been swinging it well. It takes some pressure off [the top of the lineup.]”

Of those four, Guzzo finished with arguably the best stat line — 2 hits, 1 run, and an RBI

Iowa needed a game like this from the lower half of its batting order, especially when the top crew has an off night, Heller said.

6-0 in midweek games 

The Hawkeyes’ takedown over the Leatherbacks marked the sixth win in as many tries during midweek games this season.

On average, Iowa scores 7.6 runs per contest during the midweek. The Hawkeyes have scored 12 runs on two different occasions, once against Northern Illinois and another while facing Bradley.

The Hawkeye defense has been tough to this point during midweek games as well, giving up 3.1 runs on average. Three times during those six games, Iowa only allowed a single run (Loras, Bradley, and most recently, Western Illinois).

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