Iowa baseball set for home opener

After a competitive weekend of competition, the Hawkeyes return to Duane Banks Field for their home opener.


Robert Read, Sports Editor

After a weekend series in Minneapolis that saw the Iowa baseball team compete against three top-20 opponents, the Hawkeyes have an easier challenge ahead of them Tuesday.

Iowa hosts Grand View in its home opener at Duane Banks Field, with first pitch set for 4:05 p.m.

Redshirt junior Hunter Lee will take the mound for the Hawkeyes. The right-handed pitcher is still looking to break through for Iowa and will get the chance to do so against Grand View.

Lee joined the program before the 2019 season after pitching two seasons at Kirkwood Community College. With the Eagles, Lee helped lead the team to the NJCAA World Series as a sophomore in 2018. That season, the Des Moines native went 9-2 with a 3.93 ERA over 12 appearances.

Last season, Lee’s was forced off the mound almost as quickly as the season began.

Lee made two appearances in the Black and Gold last season but missed most of the 2019 season after undergoing surgery. He went 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in his brief time pitching last season.

In his only appearance so far in 2020, Lee allowed one run on two hits over two innings of work against Pittsburgh on Feb. 16.

Iowa’s Tuesday opponent presents the opportunity for Iowa to get back on track. Grand View brings a 2-10 record to Iowa City. The Vikings are on a 10-game losing streak after opening the season with back-to-back wins over Warner University.

RELATED: Hawkeye baseball wins two games over top-20 opponents

That will be a change of pace for the Hawkeyes after their gauntlet of a schedule over the weekend. Iowa took on three top-20 teams in the nation in Minneapolis and won games against No. 20 North Carolina and No. 14 Duke.

Against the Blue Devils, pitcher Grant Judkins led Iowa on the mound. He went six innings and gave up three runs to keep the Hawkeyes close in their extra inning victory. Judkins has been the standout pitcher for Iowa to start the 2020 season.

Through 17 innings, Judkins boasts a 2.65 ERA with a 17-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Feb. 24 after going 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA through her first two starts of the season.

The pitching has been strong thus far, and the same can be said about the Hawkeye offense.

A large part of that has been because of freshman first baseman Peyton Williams. The Johnston, Iowa, native has become a potent hitter in the middle of the order early in the season for the Hawkeyes.

Through nine games, Williams is one off the team lead with nine hits. Among players who have started every game, Williams leads the team with a .500 slugging percentage. He’s hit two home runs, two doubles, and walked four times in 2020, and boasts a .342 on-base percentage.

The reigning Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Player of the Year and Iowa Baseball Report Player of the Year will look to continue his tear in the Black and Gold Tuesday — this time on his home field for the first time.