Iowa baseball ready for four-game road tilt with Rutgers

The Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights will clash this weekend at Bainton Field in Piscataway, New Jersey.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa starting pitcher Cam Baumann pitches during a baseball game between Iowa and Minnesota at Duane Banks Field on Sunday, April 11, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers 18-0.

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

This weekend in Piscataway, New Jersey, Iowa baseball’s pitching staff could be put to the test.

The Hawkeyes enter this weekend’s four-game road series with Rutgers boasting a 3.72 ERA — good for second-best in the Big Ten Conference.

The Scarlet Knights, however, come into the tilt with a .258 season-long batting average, which ranks seventh in the Big Ten.

Iowa’s ERA has improved greatly over the last 10 games, jumping from 4.26 to 3.72. During that 10-game stretch of improvement, the Hawkeyes won eight games.

“We really just changed a few things in our staff and in our mindsets going into games,” Baumann said. “Just pounding the zone and not being too picky around the zone, and if we can throw strikes, hitters will get themselves out and that’s kind of been our philosophy.”

The Hawkeyes’ pitchers have also tried to get ahead in the count during each at-bat this season.

According to Hawkeye head coach Rick Heller, Iowa’s pitchers can bait opposing batters into making contact early in the at-bat by throwing strikes and getting ahead in count.

In last weekend’s series against Minnesota, Iowa’s pitchers allowed just two runs in three games.

“When you get great starting pitching like that consistently, everything is better,” Heller said. “Everything improves because the position players on a cold and windy day like we had [last] weekend, they’re not in the field for long periods of time. Pitchers were working quick, throwing a lot of strikes, and that leads to good defense, and it leads to good offense as well.

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Among the position players that lead Iowa’s offensive attack is senior third baseman Zeb Adreon, who boasts the second-highest batting average on the Hawkeyes’ roster at .286.

So far this season, Adreon has amassed three home runs and 13 RBIs in 21 games of action.

One of Adreon’s home runs came last weekend against Minnesota. On the series, Adreon went 7-of-14 at the plate.

Iowa’s offense, as a whole, also excelled last weekend, scoring 31 runs in three games.

“Early on [this season] I was kind of struggling, not really seeing the ball really well,” Adreon said. “I just kind of got back, talked to the coaches, watched a lot of film, just kind of simplified things with my load and swing and everything. Fortunately, this weekend, everybody just clicked, and they were having a good weekend for the team, and really everybody up and down the lineup really had great weekends. So, I’m excited to see us carry that next week and into the rest of the season.”

The Scarlet Knights’ ERA currently sits at 4.33 — good for second-best in the Big Ten.

The 12-7 Hawkeyes begin their weekend scuffle the 11-9 Scarlet Knights at 1 p.m. on Friday.

On Saturday, the Hawkeyes and Scarlet Knights will play two seven-inning games with the series finale to follow on Sunday at 10 a.m.

All four of the Hawkeyes’ games can be streamed on BTN+.

“It’s going to be a knock-down, drag-out if both teams play really well,” Heller said. “And then Rutgers is a tough trip, it’s a long trip, and it’s a tough place to play. It’s not an easy place to play from our past experiences out there, so we will have our hands full.”