Taking a look at Iowa baseball’s success against ranked opponents

Iowa has found plenty of success against ranked teams this season, thanks to stellar play on the mound and at the plate.


Michael Guhin

Iowa infielder Chris Whelan hits the ball at a baseball game against Northwestern Illinois at Duane Banks Field on May 1, 2019.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

Iowa baseball finally has a break from its grind of a Big Ten schedule, but that doesn’t mean things will get any easier for the Hawkeyes.

No. 25 California-Irvine will visit Banks Field for a three-game set against an Iowa squad that has stepped up to the challenge when facing some of the country’s best teams.

The Hawkeyes are 7-2 against teams ranked in the top 30 this season, taking two out of three against No. 19 Oklahoma State in early March, sweeping No. 23 Illinois in late March, and picking up two more wins against No. 30 Nebraska two weeks ago.

As Iowa attempts to take another series from a ranked team, The Daily Iowan dove into the numbers to take a look at what makes the Hawkeyes successful against top-tier teams.

10 — Austin Martin RBIs

Southeastern Community College transfer Austin Martin doesn’t look as though he played at the junior-college level last season. Instead, he looks like a team leader who has made the most of his opportunities playing at the Division-1 level.

Martin has been Iowa’s most consistent hitter at the plate all season, and he doesn’t slow down when the Hawkeyes play ranked teams.

Martin has knocked in 26 runs on the season with 10 of them coming in the three games against ranked squads.

He racked up 3 RBIs in Iowa’s first ranked series against the Cowboys, 4 in his squad’s clean sweep of the Illini, and 3 more against the Huskers.

Martin has done everything he needed to do and more in replacing Tyler Cropley, and he has shown it against the best.

.393 — Chris Whelan’s batting average

Chris Whelan’s average sat at .333 after the Oklahoma State series — he went 2-for-4 in the first game and followed that with another base knock in Game 2.

After that, though, Whelan fell into a slump. He continued to hit balls hard but couldn’t get anything to fall, and his average dwindled to .200 entering the series against Illinois.

A 2-for-7 showing against the Illini wasn’t perfect, but it put Whelan on the right track. He continued to dig out of the hole, raising his average to .283 just three weeks later, thanks to a solid performance against the Huskers.

His weekend against Nebraska was highlighted by a 4-for-5 hitting clinic in which he brought in a run and crossed the plate himself four times.

2 — Grant Judkins earned runs

Iowa Sunday starter Grant Judkins has posted a breakout season up to this point.

The Pella, Iowa, native ranks third in the Big Ten with an ERA of 2.11. With four wins, half of his victories have come against ranked teams; his only shortcoming was a 3-2 loss to Nebraska in which he only gave up 1 earned run in seven innings.

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Judkins tossed five scoreless innings against Oklahoma State and gave up 1 earned run against the Illini in seven innings.

Pitching gems has become commonplace for Judkins, who excels even when Iowa doesn’t face ranked teams.

He has conceded 3 earned runs only three times this season, and no team has put up more runs on him.