Iowa Baseball: Hawkeyes Look To End Road Woes


The University of Iowa baseball team has had a tough time in road games this season, but has a chance to improve that situation this weekend in a three-game series at Indiana.

The Hawkeyes (16-15 overall, 5-4 Big 10) are 10-2 at Duane Banks Field so far this season, and a respectable 4-3 in games played at neutral sites. Iowa is an abysmal 2-10 in true road games to this point, however, including 1-2 in Big 10 road games.

This weekend brings an opportunity to push that conference road mark above .500, but it will come against a red-hot Hoosier team that has won six straight games.

Indiana (18-13, 4-2) swept in-state rival Purdue last weekend largely thanks to what has powered their victories all season: stellar pitching.

The Hoosiers have a team earned run average of 2.83, second-best in the Big 10, and opponents are hitting just .233 off their hurlers to this point in the season. Indiana’s pitching staff also boasts a strikeout-to-walk ratio of over three to one. That creates a challenge for an offense that has struggled in road games so far this season.

Iowa is averaging just 2.67 runs per game so far this season on the road, and that’s just barely above the Hawkeyes’ victory threshold. Iowa is 0-9 to this point in 2016 when it scores two runs or fewer.

Friday night’s pitching match-up will feature sophomore CJ Eldred making his return to Bloomington, where he began his collegiate career. Eldred enters the start with a record of 2-3 and a 2.52 ERA. His counterpart will be lefty Kyle Hart, who comes in at 5-2 and with a 3.02 ERA. The game will be televised on BTN Plus and first pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. EDT.

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Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. EDT matinee brings another opportunity for senior Tyler Peyton to improve upon an up-and-down season. Peyton (1-4, 6.09 ERA) will face Indiana’s most efficient starter and another left-hander, Caleb Baragar. Baragar comes in at 2-1 with a 1.51 ERA and once again the game will be on BTN Plus.

The series finale on Sunday at 3:03 p.m. EDT pits sophomore Nick Gallagher (4-2, 2.73 ERA) against the Hoosiers’ Evan Bell (0-3, 3.59 ERA). This game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network, giving the Hawkeyes a chance to impress a large audience.

If Iowa’s own starters can pitch well, fans should expect runs to be at a premium. Indiana is hitting .266 as a team, seventh in the Big 10 and seven teams in the conference have scored more runs than the Hoosiers so far.

To win this series, the Hawkeyes need to continue to swing the bat well. It’s the offense that has powered Iowa to winning five out of its last six games, including three in a row. The Hawkeyes scored 52 runs in those six games, but there are two caveats to that impressive number. All six of those games were played at home, and 22 of those runs came in Wednesday’s blowout against Air Force.

Next: Jarrod Uthoff Season Review

If Iowa is to compete for a Big 10 championship this season and return to an NCAA regional, they will need to elevate their level of play in away games. Taking down a hot Indiana team that has been pitching well all season would be a great start.