Baseball: NU travels to Iowa for four-game series against Hawkeyes and Terrapins

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Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

Junior pitcher Mike Doherty throws a pitch. Doherty and the Cats will hit the road this weekend and take on Iowa and Maryland.

Sophia Scanlan, Print Managing Editor


Baseball


“People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa.”

James Earl Jones says this line in the famous baseball movie “Field of Dreams,” with a baseball field, cornfields and members of the 1919 Black Sox staring back at him.

Northwestern is not the Black Sox, and Jones likely won’t be in the grandstands this weekend delivering iconic lines about the game. But the Wildcats will indeed head out to the land of baseball and cornfields on Saturday for a four-game series against Iowa and Maryland.

NU (12-12, 12-12 Big Ten) will open the weekend with two contests against the Terrapins (13-12, 13-12 Big Ten) on Saturday and Sunday before turning to the Hawkeyes (15-10, 15-10 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon and Monday.

It won’t be the first time this year the Cats have seen the Terrapins, though. NU dropped both games against Maryland earlier this month, so coach Spencer Allen is eager for his squad to compete against the Terrapins a second time.

“I’m actually really looking forward to playing them because they’ve got a really good team,” Allen said. “It should be a good two-game series.”

Maryland is currently tied with Ohio State for fifth place in the Big Ten, with Iowa just above in fourth. The Cats are situated in seventh.

NU is coming off a tough weekend against Indiana, where it lost two of three. However, a silver lining of the series came when freshman second baseman Vincent Bianchina blasted two home runs in the finale.

The infielder, who has been working on his swing throughout the season, will be an important factor for the Cats’ offense against the Hawkeyes and Terrapins.

“The last two and a half weeks, I have not been seeing the ball the best,” Bianchina said. “So, during practice I made some adjustments. I really simplified things in my swing.”

In addition to Bianchina, the rest of NU’s lineup has posted some impressive batting statistics through the first half of the season. Junior first baseman Anthony Calarco leads the Big Ten in hits and doubles and junior shortstop Shawn Goosenberg has the third-highest slugging percentage in the league at .692.

But Iowa also has powerful batters. Outfielder Ben Norman is tied with Goosenberg for slugging and he won the Big Ten Player of the Week recognition this week after a standout batting performance in the Hawkeyes’ series against Rutgers.

Maryland’s Benjamin Cowles is also a threat. Leading the league with 11 home runs, the infielder has a mammoth slugging percentage of .783, surpassing both Goosenberg and Norman.

As a result, NU will need its own strong batting to keep up with some of the Big Ten’s best offensive powers.

“You just can’t have quick outs,” Allen said. “You have to really try to battle and fight.”

The Cats come to Iowa with experienced starters of their own in junior pitcher Mike Doherty and senior pitcher Quinn Lavelle. Graduate student pitcher Sam Lawrence has also been reliable in relief, who threw 1.2 scoreless innings against the Hoosiers last weekend.

As NU looks to move up in the standings, Allen is optimistic about the Cats’ trip to Iowa City this weekend.

“Each time you play a team, everyone’s in a little different headspace,” he said. “I feel like our guys are in a good spot and feel… that we can compete against anyone.”

Email: sophiascanl[email protected] 
Twitter: @sophia_scanlan 

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