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Baseball Weekend Preview: Iowa

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The Hawkeyes from the Big Ten come to Austin this weekend for a four-game set. Texas and Iowa will square off on Friday night at 6, followed by a double header at 12:30 Saturday afternoon and the finale at 1:00 Sunday.

Texas has struggled mightily at the plate in three of its last four games, but credit the pitching, defense, and ability to take advantage of what few scoring opportunities the Longhorns have given themselves for the fact that they have only lost one of those ball games. The pitching in particular has been everything we hoped and believed it would be at the beginning of the year: strong for nine innings. The really interesting thing to watch this weekend, though, is that Texas Sports lists Texas' Sunday starter as lefty Hoby Milner--not Austin Dicharry, who pitched well in the midweek contest against Texas State.

Iowa comes into this weekend at 4-5, having played all nine games to start the season on the road. Northern teams are used to this grueling schedule, but it no doubt has an impact on their performance right around this time of year. Last weekend they lost 3 of 4 to KU in Lawrence, which may not be anything to be ashamed of as Kansas is 9-3 and has been projected to have one of its better squads this season. We'll find out just how good the Jayhawks are this weekend when they travel to Baton Rouge to face top-ranked LSU.

But, back to the Hawkeyes. Their top hitter is Kurtis Muller, who is hitting .474 in 38 at-bats. More importantly, Muller has been responsible for an impressive 16 runs through eight appearances--scoring 10 and driving in six. On the mound Iowa has been good-not-great; Saturday nightcap starter Zach Kenyon has a scary-looking ERA, but this will be his first start on the season and he has thrown only 8.2 innings total so far. What does that mean for Texas? This weekend should provide an opportunity to take fear from bats again. 

Friday, March 12, 2010 - 6 p.m. Central

Texas: RHP Taylor Jungmann (2-0, 0.83 ERA)
Iowa: LHP Jarred Hippen (1-1, 3.79 ERA)

Saturday, March 13, 2010 - 12:30 p.m. Central

Texas: RHP Cole Green (3-0, 3.63 ERA)
Iowa: RHP Phil Schreiber (1-0, 5.79 ERA)

Texas: RHP Brandon Workman (1-1, 2.84 ERA)
Iowa: RHP Zach Kenyon (0-0, 1.04 ERA)

Sunday, March 14, 2010 - 1 p.m. Central
Texas: LHP Hoby Milner (0-0, 2.08 ERA)
Iowa: LHP Zach Robertson (2-1, 9.58 ERA)