Crunch time for Hawkeye baseball

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Crunch time for Hawkeye baseball

Nick Allgeyer pitches during Iowa baseball vs. Ohio State at Duane Banks Field on April 7, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 2-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

Nick Allgeyer pitches during Iowa baseball vs. Ohio State at Duane Banks Field on April 7, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 2-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Megan

Nick Allgeyer pitches during Iowa baseball vs. Ohio State at Duane Banks Field on April 7, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 2-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Megan

The Daily Iowan; Photos by Megan

Nick Allgeyer pitches during Iowa baseball vs. Ohio State at Duane Banks Field on April 7, 2018. The Hawkeyes were defeated 2-1. (Megan Nagorzanski/The Daily Iowan)

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It’s crunch time for Iowa baseball, and the Hawkeyes are well aware of that.

In its past two weekend series, Iowa has faced No. 25 Minnesota and No. 7 Michigan, losing the series to the Gophers but snaring two games from the Wolverines.

Starting today, the Hawkeyes will face with their third-straight weekend clashing with a ranked foe; No. 12 Oklahoma State travels to Banks Field for a three-game series, and while it won’t count for conference play, the games have the potential to give Iowa a huge boost.

“It definitely gets us ready to go each week, especially with Oklahoma State coming in this weekend,” Typer Cropley said. “They’re ranked, another ranked team, but every game on the schedule is circled.”

Recently, Iowa dropped a midweek contest with Missouri — a game in which the Hawkeyes seemed to have full command late in the game.

The Black and Gold had its SEC foe on the ropes, leading, 13-6, in the top of the eighth inning. But the Tigers exploded for 7 runs in the inning, and they added 2 more in the top of the ninth to take a late lead.

A Hawkeye run sent the game to extra innings, but Iowa just could not counter Missouri’s 2 runs in the top of the 11th.

Regardless, the loss won’t leave Iowa’s record, but it proved to be a measuring stick for where the Hawkeyes are at this late in the season.

“[Those who] saw us play, we can compete. We can play,” Robert Neustom said.

Missouri connected on 24 hits, but the consensus was clear — it wasn’t as though the Hawkeye pitchers were completely off their game, it’s that the Tiger batters were getting the tough hits to go.

“I was fine with [Grant] Leonard, [Ben] Probst, [Cam] Baumann — those guys were pounding the zone, that’s all you can ask,” head coach Rick Heller said. “They weren’t walking guys or making uncompetitive pitches, [the Tigers] were just hitting good pitches. What do you do? You tip your hat if that happens.”

As always, Iowa’s pitching will need to be on its A game in order to shut down a Cowboy offense that’s scored 8 runs or more in three of its last four games.

Oklahoma State boasts one of the league’s best power hitters in Colin Simpson. He’s sent 14 pitches over the wall so far this year, and he also leads the Cowboys with 50 hits and 43 RBIs.

Meanwhile, fans in attendance will be treated to what could shape up to be a pitching showdown at Banks Field. Oklahoma State Friday starter Carson Teel is fresh off an 8-inning, 5-hit outing on the mound. In that game (an 8-0 win over Oklahoma), Teel struck out 12 Sooners and kept any Oklahoma offense from reaching the scoreboard.

Iowa’s Nick Allgeyer will counter, however. Allgeyer’s last outing proved to be similar to Teels. The Hawkeye Friday starter pitched 7 innings, allowed 5 hits and just a single run, while striking out 8 Wolverines in the Hawkeyes’ 4-2 win — a win that snapped Michigan’s 20-game winning streak.

Given the potential for a defensive showdown, anything can happen — the Hawkeyes know this; three of their last four games have been decided by 2 runs or fewer.

“One swing can change the whole game,” Neustrom said.

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