Iowa looking at second base options in wake of Boe injury

With Mitchell Boe out, Iowa has a few options when it comes to replacing the captain at second base.

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Iowa looking at second base options in wake of Boe injury

Iowa infielder Mitchell Boe celebrates after hitting a home run during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018.

Iowa infielder Mitchell Boe celebrates after hitting a home run during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018.

Katina Zentz

Iowa infielder Mitchell Boe celebrates after hitting a home run during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018.

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa infielder Mitchell Boe celebrates after hitting a home run during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018.

Pete Ruden, Sports Editor

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When Mitchell Boe went down and Iowa found out he needed to have surgery for facial fractures, it wasn’t easy for the team to handle.

After all, Boe serves as a senior captain and is arguably one of the best defensive second basemen in the Big Ten.

“It was hard for all of us,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said. “Mitch has meant so much to our program. He’s seen so much, he’s a leader, he’s gritty. He kind of epitomizes our team. Heart and soul-type guy of our team. To see him go down and have to have surgery [last] week, it was pretty tough on everybody.”

The timing doesn’t help, either. Iowa sits in the thick of the race for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament with two crucial series against Michigan State and Maryland coming up.

RELATED: Ruden: Sunday’s Cal-Irvine loss won’t define Iowa’s season

While the matchups don’t appear tough on paper, the Hawkeyes need consistent production to keep their bubble from bursting, which is what Boe brings when he’s on the field.

Since his injury, Heller has had to act fast to find a replacement at second base.

First, it was freshman Brendan Sher, who started at second in Iowa’s 6-3 win over Cal-Irvine on May 3.

Sher has been one of the hottest hitters on the team recently, but he doesn’t have much experience in the middle infield. Instead, he has spent most of his playing time at third.

“When I see my name in the lineup or not, I’m going to come out to the ballpark with the same energy,” he said. “Whatever number for a position I’m at, I’m going to do the same thing I always do and just play the game.”

But it’s not always that simple, his coach said.

“A lot of plays at second require some savvy,” Heller said. “Most people think, ‘Oh, you’re just going to go play second,’ but the angles, and the pivots, and covering first base on bunts — all that stuff is way different for guys who have never played there in a game.”

RELATED: Iowa baseball falls to Cal-Irvine in series finale

Another option for Iowa is Izaya Fullard, who started at second in the Hawkeyes’ 1-0 win on May 4.

At 5-10, 235 pounds, Fullard is built more like a fullback in Kinnick than the prototypical second basemen, but he has shown the ability to make outs in the middle.

It also doesn’t hurt to have his bat in the lineup. Fullard clubbed 2 home runs against the Anteaters in Game 1, and he raised his average to the .300 mark on Sunday.

“I’ve been practicing behind Mitch all year, and he’s really helped me out a lot and really made me comfortable in that position,” Fullard said. “He kind of helped me gain the confidence to play over there.”

Heller also noted that Matthew Sosa can play second, so if anyone needs a day off, he will be ready to fill in.

Of course, it’s also possible Boe will make a return. While he was expected to be out for two weeks at the minimum, Boe told Heller he’ll be ready to go before then.

“Mitch is telling me he’s going to be back; [May 10] is what he’s telling me,” Heller said and laughed. “… When he told me that [May 3], I’m not ever going to count it out because I think it’s going to be a situation of how much Mitch wants to risk.”