After a completing a midweek sweep of the Kansas State Wildcats, Nebraska returns to Lincoln to host the Iowa Hawkeyes in a three game weekend series. Iowa travels to Nebraska for the second time since the Huskers joined the Big Ten in 2012.
The Hawkeyes are officially 20-11 (3-3 Big Ten) on the season, with two of their wins coming against non Division One opponents. Iowa has won a home series against Purdue and lost a road series to cellar dweller Northwestern last weekend. The Hawkeyes are coming off a 4-1 midweek victory against Western Illinois.
As a team, Iowa ranks in the top third of the league with a .288 batting average. The Hawkeyes have walked 143 times, while striking out in 199 plate appearances.
Individually for Iowa, the most dangerous hitter is Jake Adams. A junior college transfer, Adams has taken the Big Ten by storm and leads the league with 13 home runs to go along with his .341 batting average.
Adams is backed up by teammates Robert Neustrom, Mason McCoy, Ben Norman, and Chris Whelan, who all have batting averages over .300 for Iowa. Neustrom is second on the team to Adams in runs batted in with 31. McCoy is a patient hitter who has walked 17 times while only striking out nine times. Norman and Whelan both are threats on the bases where they have combined for 15 stolen bases.
On the mound for the Hawkeyes will be the trio of Nick Gallagher, Ryan Erickson, and Cole McDonald.
Gallagher, the Friday night ace has not given up a run in his last three outings, against the offensive powerhouses of Purdue, Northwestern, and UNLV. Gallagher is similar to Brian Shaffer in that he is a power pitcher and can rack up the strikeouts while limiting walks.
After Gallagher, the Hawkeye pitching staff drops off a little to Erickson and McDonald. Erickson has pitched into the sixth inning just twice this season and was hit hard last weekend by Northwestern. McDonald, like Erickson has struggled recently as he has not made it past three innings of any of his recent starts.
Behind the starters, the bullpen for Iowa is thin on elite arms. Kyle Shimp, a redshirt freshman leads the relievers with a 1.35 ERA, but struggles as he has allowed 12 walks against 13 strikeouts. Besides Shimp, Josh Martsching and Elijah wood are the only two Hawkeye relievers with an ERA under 4.00.
One thing Iowa does very well is field the ball. Iowa has just 24 errors on the season, right in front of Nebraska’s 27 errors. Iowa limits base stealing as well, catching 40% of runners attempting to steal.
Nebraska should like their chances this weekend, as Iowa is only 3-7 away in true road games. With Iowa having only one quality road win, at South Florida, Nebraska should be able to intimidate and win the series this weekend. A sweep would put heat on the rest of the conference, but Nebraska should be plenty happy if they take two out of three from the Hawkeyes.