U hopes to extend Iowa streak

Sarah Mitchell

A win over Minnesota has become almost unimaginable for Iowa’s baseball team. The Gophers (20-7 overall, 3-1 in the Big Ten) seem to own their oldest rival and have an 11-game win streak against the Hawkeyes.
Despite the dismal numbers, however, second-year Hawkeyes coach Scott Broghamer said he expects a breakthrough from his team this weekend when Minnesota travels to Iowa City.
“We’re certainly looking at last season and saying, `Hey, we played four close games in Minneapolis and had the opportunity to win some,'” Broghamer said.
Pitching made the difference last year, as Gophers starters Brad Pautz and Dan McGrath both recorded complete-game shutouts at Siebert Field. Pautz allowed just three hits in a 3-0 Gophers victory, but McGrath was left with less room for error.
In going the distance, the southpaw received help from pinch hitter Josh Holthaus. Holthaus drove in the only run of the game, delivering a two-out, game-winning single in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Broghamer said this season’s Hawkeyes (14-15, 3-5) would have fared better in the same situation. Despite having as many as six freshmen in its starting lineup, Iowa remains in the middle of conference standings. The Hawkeyes split at Michigan State last weekend.
“We play more experienced as the season goes on,” Broghamer said. “We’re 30-some games into the season, so they aren’t freshman anymore. They’re veterans.”
Hawkeyes veteran hurler Jim Magrane has been effective on the mound, earning Big Ten pitcher of the week honors for his performance against Michigan State. The right-hander went the distance on Saturday, striking out 13 Spartans in Iowa’s 10-1 win. In his second complete game of the season, Magrane allowed six hits and no earned runs.
On the week, Magrane posted a 1.62 ERA through 16.2 innings of work. Although the Gophers scouted the Hawkeyes bullpen, Magrane poses a problem.
“You know what the pitchers have. You know what to look for,” Gophers reliever Kurt Haring said. “But you don’t know the signs, so you don’t know when they are going to throw what.”
While Minnesota batters might be in the dark, they’ll still try to inflate Magrane’s impressive ERA. Timely hitting has been a struggle for the Gophers, but the team brings a hefty .326 batting average to the plate. Two first-year players, senior transfer Aron Amundson (.484) and true freshman Jack Hannahan (.440), lead the way.
“Sometimes we’re roping,” Haring said. “Our team can mash. And when we mash … .”
Minimizing Minnesota’s run production could decide Iowa’s fate, but chances of a series win for the Hawkeyes are slim. Considering the recent history between Minnesota and Iowa, Broghamer’s standards are a little more humble.
“We just need one. The guys are showing consistency and that’s real important,” Broghamer said. “We’re focused on this year. We want to be successful in the Big Ten.”