Iowa baseball set to face trio of North Carolina foes

Iowa will have its hands full this weekend with a docket of ranked opponents from North Carolina coming up.


Katie Goodale

Iowa pitcher Jack Dreyer walks back to the mound during a game at Duane Banks Fields on Wednesday Apr. 25, 2018.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

The opportunity Iowa baseball has in front of it this weekend could not be much bigger.

The Hawkeyes will travel to Minneapolis to face No. 8 North Carolina State on Friday, No. 20 North Carolina on Saturday, and No. 14 Duke on March 1.

Along with a history of national relevance, the Carolina trio holds a combined record of 22-3 this season.

Iowa toppled the lone ranked team it has faced this season, downing No. 18 Arizona, 4-1, on Feb. 22. Now, the Hawkeyes find themselves with an even bigger challenge ahead.

0.75 — Duke’s team ERA

The Blue Devils aren’t big fans of seeing opposing teams score runs. At all.

Duke ranks second in the country with a team ERA of 0.75, allowing only six earned runs through its first eight games.

In those eight games, the Blue Devil pitching staff has recorded five shutouts.

North Carolina has also posted a team ERA of 1.56 with three shutouts of its own this season. North Carolina State owns a 1.75 ERA and a .202 opponents’ batting average.

The Hawkeyes have put up a solid average, hitting .263 through six games, but the pitching challenges posed by the Blue Devils, Tar Heels, and Wolfpack are unlike anything they’ve seen this season.

9.3 — North Carolina State’s runs per game

Led by Devonte Brown, the Wolfpack offense has been a force all season.

Six players hold a batting average of at least .300, with Brown pacing the team with a .448 average to go along with four home runs and 16 RBIs. He’s also the reigning Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week.

North Carolina State has scored in double figures four times this season, with three coming in its last three games.

RELATED: Hawkeye baseball goes 1-2 in trip to San Diego

Luckily for Iowa, it’ll have its ace ready to go against the potent Wolfpack attack.

Jack Dreyer held Kent State to two hits in five scoreless innings of work in Iowa’s season-opener. A week later, he gave up three runs on three hits against San Diego State.

Just like the rest of the team, Dreyer will face his biggest obstacle thus far on Friday.

.140 — Opponents’ batting average against Iowa starters

Starters Dreyer, Grant Judkins, and Duncan Davitt have impressed on the mound early.

The trio has combined for a 3-1 record with a 2.12 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .140 average.

Despite the strong start to the season coming off an injury — one that includes a 2.31 ERA — Dreyer still has a loss on his record.

But if three earned runs in two starts is the biggest problem, that will be just fine. Dreyer has also punched out 13 batters this season, which ranks 10th in the Big Ten.

Saturday starter Grant Judkins has avenged the sour ending to his season last year, earning the win over the ranked Wildcats.

He allowed only two hits in six scoreless innings in the victory to earn Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors. His 1.64 ERA leads the Hawkeye rotation.

Sunday starter Duncan Davitt has been solid, as well, holding a 2.57 ERA without earning a decision.