The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Three takeaways from Iowa baseball’s series victory over Purdue

The Hawkeyes lost the first game but got hot at the plate and had a successful outing from the bullpen to clinch their second straight series win.
Shaely Odean
Iowa catcher Davis Cop watches the ball during a baseball game between No. 18 Iowa and Northern Illinois at Duane Banks Field on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. The Hawkeyes defeated the Huskies, 14-6.

Conference play is in full swing for the Iowa baseball team, who opened up Big Ten action with a three-game series on the road against the Purdue Boilermakers.

The Hawkeyes came into the series on a four-game winning streak and carried the momentum into West Lafayette, taking two of the three games. With the victories, Iowa improved to 13-10 on the season.

Here are three takeaways from the series triumph.

Bats catch fire 

After a 10-3 loss in game one that featured a dismal hitting performance, the Hawkeyes finally woke up their bats, scoring 15 runs on 29 total hits.

Fourth-year Davis Cop had a terrific weekend at the plate with six RBIs, while fellow fourth-year Andy Nelson continued his hot streak with a three-run long ball in the second game that put Iowa on top for good. Over the four-game week, Nelson hit .667 with three home runs and nine RBIs.

“We just kept after them until the very end,” head coach Rick Heller told Hawkeye Sports after the series finale. “We didn’t execute as well as we would have liked, but 15 hits and nine runs is not bad.”

The offense hasn’t really been a struggle for this Hawkeye team this year, but their heavy production at the plate against a conference foe should help build some much-needed confidence as the dog days of the season begin to kick in.

Bullpen figuring it out  

Iowa’s bullpen struggles have been discussed numerous times throughout the young season, but this unit really showed up in both victories over the weekend.

An RBI single from Cop gave the Hawkeyes a 4-3 lead in the seventh inning of game two, but unlike many other contests, the bullpen slammed the door shut. Second-year Aaron Savary recorded the win by allowing only one hit through 2 ⅓ innings. Not only that, fourth-year Jack Young helped the Hawks out of a bases-loaded pickle in the eighth to secure the win.

In the rubber match, third-year Jack Whitlock saved Iowa from another bases-loaded disaster in the fifth to secure the win, while Young earned his first career save after striking out the side in the ninth inning.

If the Hawkeyes can figure out their bullpen situation, then the dream of winning their first Big Ten title in 34 years is still in play.

Has Iowa found its rhythm again? 

Iowa won 44 games last season and qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the third time under Heller’s watch. Though it certainly has not been the start that everyone envisioned, this roster still has the pieces to achieve those lofty preseason expectations.

Iowa currently has won six out of its last seven games, including series wins over Western Illinois and Purdue with a midweek victory over Grand View sprinkled in.

This year’s slow start mirrors the 2023 Hawkeyes, who raced out to a 19-2 start but suffered a mid-season swoon that saw them lose four of their next eight games. But, they recovered and finished 15-8 in Big Ten play – good enough for third place.

“Last year we were sitting at 19-2 and we hit that down spot right at the start of the season,” Heller said. “I’m hoping it’s just the opposite this year.”

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Shaely Odean
Shaely Odean, Photojournalist
Shaely Odean is a transfer student at the University of Iowa, currently in her third year. She is pursuing double majors in Journalism and Strategic Communications, as well as Sustainability Sciences. Shaely works as a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan, and her passion lies in environmental issues. Before joining the University of Iowa, she attended Kirkwood Community College, where she served as the photo editor for the Kirkwood Communique.