Hellerball aims to end Michigan’s run


The Daily Iowan; Photos by Katie

Hawkeye pitcher/outfielder, Freshman Trenton Wallace, warms up during Men's Baseball at Duane Banks Fields on Wednesday Apr. 25, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Panthers 12-4. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Winning-streak killers.

That’s what Iowa baseball wants to be, starting today at Banks Field, when Michigan, which has won 20-straight games, comes in for a three-game series.

“I know a lot of teams say it, they’re going to end the streak, but I think we’re going to be the ones,” Hawkeye Lorenzo Elion said. “We’re going to play with a chip on our shoulder and come out aggressive with a lot of energy.”

After snagging one win in three games in its previous weekend series, against No. 21 Minnesota, Iowa needs to be on its A-game with arguably the hottest team in college baseball headed to town.

Michigan has yet to drop a Big Ten game this season. The next closest team, Minnesota, has a pair of losses on its conference slate.

The recipe for taking down a Big Ten Goliath? Stick with what’s got the Hawkeyes to this point.

“I think just come out and play like we’ve been playing,” catcher Tyler Cropley said. “They haven’t played really anybody in conference from what we’ve seen.”

Michigan’s 20-game stretch hasn’t been against world-class talent, but it’s not a streak to scoff at.

“Well, I think all of us have respect for that streak,” head coach Rick Heller said. “No matter what, that’s pretty impressive. That’s tough to do in baseball. Some days you play good, like we did on [April 20], and you still don’t win because the ball doesn’t go our way or whatever, but to be on that kind of a roll is pretty special.”

Recently, the Wolverines swept Penn State, scoring 19 and 14 runs in the first and second games of the series. Two wins against Maryland and a three-game sweep of Northwestern and an easy handling of Michigan State sum up Michigan’s Big Ten slate during the streak.

Coming out aggressive was something Elion stressed after Iowa’s 12-4 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday. While he said the Hawkeyes love being in moments such as these, so-called underdogs ready to wreck an impending Michigan ship, that monumental streak can’t be the main focus.

“We love playing for these types of moments, and they got to come see us — they got to come to Iowa City … [We can’t] let that winning streak get to us,” Elion said.

Michigan has been shaky away from Ann Arbor, to say the least. At home, the Wolverines are almost untouchable, losing just one of their 17 contests. But on the road, however, Big Blue looks black and blue, bruised with a 6-7 away record — the fewest number of wins on the road out of any Big Ten team with a winning record.

And then there’s Iowa, which has only lost three times at home, the second-best home record in the Big Ten.

Knowing very well that his team has a shot to change the course of the Big Ten season with a series win, Heller emphasized his team’s need to lock down on defense, and that starts with pitchers Nick Allgeyer — Iowa’s Friday starter — Brady Schanuel, and Cole McDonald.

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