The University of Iowa baseball team will square off against fourth-seeded Minnesota in a Big Ten Tournament elimination game at 1 p.m. (CT) Thursday at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Hawkeyes will send sophomore Blake Hickman to the mound for his fifth career start. The right-hander is 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 16 appearances this season, allowing 14 runs on 27 hits over 29 1/3 innings. Hickman has 33 strikeouts against 20 walks.
The Gophers will counter with junior right-hander Ben Meyer, who is 4-4 with a 2.50 ERA in 14 starts this season. Meyer has allowed 32 runs (25 earned) on 79 hits over 90 innings, striking out 61 against 27 walks.
Meyer wasn’t involved in the decision in the regular season meeting in Iowa City — an 11-5 Hawkeye victory. He allowed four runs (two earned) on five hits over five innings, issuing four walks to two strikeouts.
After giving up the game-winning run in the top of the ninth inning in a 4-3 loss in game one of the regular season series, Iowa rallied from early deficits to claim its first series over the Gophers since 2005.
Iowa trailed 5-0 following two innings in game two before scoring the final 11 runs in an 11-5 victory. The Hawkeyes then fell behind 3-0 through seven innings in the series finale before putting up a six-spot in the seventh and one in the eighth. Iowa surrendered three runs in the top of the ninth before holding on to a 7-6 win.
The Hawkeyes hit .308 in the series, plating 21 runs on 33 hits. Senior Taylor Zeutenhorst paced the team, hitting .417 (5-of-12) with four runs and three RBIs. He had two home runs and a double over the course of the weekend.
Hickman threw 1 2/3 innings in relief in game two, surrendering one hit and walking a pair.
Iowa is 0-2 all-time against Minnesota in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hawkeyes fell to the Gophers, 15-5, in the championship game of the 2010 tournament in Columbus, Ohio, and 14-7 in an opening round game in 2005 in Champaign, Ill.
Minnesota is 27-23 overall this season after falling 3-2 to fifth-seeded Michigan on Wednesday. Iowa is Iowa is 29-22, one win shy of its first 30-win season since 2010, after dropping a 5-2 decision to top-seeded Indiana.
Thursday’s game will be televised live on the Big Ten Network (and BTN2GO) with Kevin Kugler and Scott Pose on the call.
(release courtesy of hawkeyesports.com)