Road trips in college baseball are generally tough, difficult, or even just plan hard. Then there are teams like Iowa and weekends like the Hawkeyes had in Piscataway NJ this past weekend.
Iowa went on a tear, nearly sweeping the four game series against Rutgers and outscoring the Scarlet Knights 32-22. In the process, the 2021 version of Iowa baseball stamped their own mark into the history books as the first Hawkeye team since 2007 (14 years). As a team, Iowa totaled 35 hits for a .271 series average. Of the 35 hits, the Hawks once again participated in the long ball with three home runs. The first of which came from the power bat known as Ben Norman.
Then redshirt junior Izaya Fullard joined in on the fun with his first homer of the year in the second game of the series.
And then Norman went beyond his previous home run record launching his 10th of the 2021 campaign in the fourth and final game of the series.
Those home runs were part of 11 extra-base hits for the series, the fifth series victory of the season. The Hawkeyes continuously put runners on base as evidence by their 30 runners left on base for the series. Iowa’s offense was quite leathal especially in game one where they totaled a 2021 single-game high 14 runs off of 14 hits. Once again, Iowa found a way to be versitile in the way they win, taking game two by a 3-1 final with just five hits in the contest. That was followed up with 11 hits in game three, and five hits in the series finale. From top to bottom, it was a hard hitting lineup that had four batters strike three or more RBI and four batters with four players with four or more hits for the series. Patience at the plate was also abundant as Iowa drew a season series-high 22 walks over the weekend.
Highlighting those efforts obviously starts with Ben Norman who was named Big Ten player of the week going 6-for-15 with two home runs and a conference-best 8 RBI. That now sets Norman in rarified Big Ten air as second in the conference with 30 home runs. On top of that, he bumped up his on base streak to 13 consecutive games. A player that’s had a big resurgance as of late has been Fullard and over the weekend, he led the team with seven hits in the series. From that, Fullard posted up four RBI. Catcher Austin Martin also had a strong series, going 6-for-13 with 5 RBI.
Of course, just as impactful as Iowa was at the plate, they were on the mound. The Hawkeyes compiled 18 strikeouts and also had plenty of highlights. That included Indianola Iowa native Duncan Davitt who sported a single-game career high seven strikeouts in the series finale.
Of course, Davitt wasn’t the only one to shine on the mound. In game two of the four-game slate, former Waukee High School standout Drew Irvine went the distance in the 3-1 victory. He went the full seven innings of work and allowed just one earned run while striking out five in the process. That wasn’t all as the redshirt sophomore did not allow a single extra-base hit. That highlighted what has been an impressive slate of outings recently. It marked his second straight seven-inning game and second outing where he allowed one earned run or less. Over his past three outings, Irvine has compiled 19 innings pitched, allowing just six earned runs, all while sporting 13 strikeouts. Going further, Irvine has allowed just four extra-base hits in his three games pitched.
We were able to chat with Iowa’s Saturday starter about his dominant outing, and his journey to becoming a Saturday fixture in the starting Iowa rotation. His day off spent talking a little with IAbaseball: