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Baseball Heads to Iowa for Key Weekend Series

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Steven Hill

April 19, 2012

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball (16-20, 4-5), winners of its last three games, looks to continue its climb up the Big Ten standings with a key three-game series at the Iowa Hawkeyes this weekend. The Nittany Lions, who started off Big Ten play with a 1-4 record, are in a tie for seventh place in the conference standing with Iowa. First pitch for the weekend is slated for 7:05 p.m. ET on Friday at Duane Banks Field.

This weekend's contests can be heard on ESPN Radio 1450 State College with Loren Crispell and Brian Tripp calling the action. Live stats will be available via a Gametracker link on In addition, fans can follow @psubaseball on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.

Penn State enters this weekend's contest riding a three-game winning streak. Senior Mike Franklin (Harleysville, Pa.) pitched a complete game shutout on Wednesday, leading the Nittany Lions to a 2-0 victory over the Bucknell Bison at Meldar Field. Penn State is also coming off a recent 2-1 big series victory over Michigan this past weekend. On Sunday afternoon, Penn State seniors Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) once again played heroic roles in the Nittany Lions' huge 6-4 victory over the Wolverines. With the Lions trailing in the seventh, Deegan hit a two-run bomb to put Penn State up. Steranka added insurance with a homer in the eighth. On Saturday, the Nittany Lions broke out with a 14-run and 17-hit performance to top Michigan, 14-1.

Penn State will send sophomore Joe Kurrasch (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) to the mound on Friday, followed by junior Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas) on Saturday and junior John Walter (Haddonfield, N.J.) on Sunday. This weekend trio has pitched strong together as of late. Kurrasch had a great effort on the mound for the Nittany Lions last Saturday in a 14-1 victory over Michigan. Despite walking seven batters, Kurrasch allowed just four hits and one earned run in seven-plus innings of work. On Sunday, Hill went seven strong innings, giving up three runs and fanning four hitters in a 6-4 victory over the Wolverines. The trio through their last nine starts have combined for a 5-2 record and a 2.69 ERA in 60.1 innings, while giving up just 48 hits and striking out 48.

Some current Penn State players have had great careers against Iowa, but none have matched the success that senior Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) has had. Deegan is hitting .520 with 13 hits in six games all-time against the Hawkeyes. Deegan has ripped two homers and has slugged .880 with three doubles in the six career contests. Sophomore Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) is batting at a .467 clip in three career games against the Hawkeyes with seven hits.

Iowa enters the weekend with a 15-17 overall record and a 4-5 mark in Big Ten play. The Hawkeyes have played just nine games at home, posting a 6-3 overall record. Offensively, Iowa is batting .273 as a team and have three players that are batting above .300. Phil Keppler leads the team with a .375 batting average, but has seen action in just 25 games. Mike McQuillan has started all 32 games for the Hawkeyes, batting .343 with a team-best 40 hits. Iowa's homerun leader is Andrew Host with two. The Hawkeyes will start three lefties this weekend in Jarred Hippen (3-3, 4.17), Matt Dermody (1-4, 4.83) and Sasha Kuebel (3-0, 3.14).

Penn State holds a 34-26 advantage over the Hawkeyes in the all-time series history. Iowa has won four of the last five contests, including taking two of three in Iowa City last season. The Nittany Lions have played strong in Iowa City, holding a 15-13 record in contests on the road.

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