Suffice to say, this season has not gone quite as planned for Iowa baseball. A year after putting together a remarkable 41-18 campaign that culminated in a trip to the NCAA Tournament and a first NCAA Tournament win in decades, Iowa baseball's follow-up campaign has hit more than a few potholes along the way. After a weekend sweep against Missouri State (ranked in the Top 20) and dramatic come-from-behind win over Bradley yesterday, Iowa sits at 7-11 with Big Ten play looming. A repeat of last year's NCAA Tournament appearance is not looking likely at the moment.
MISSOURI STATE 4, IOWA 1
Iowa outhit the Bears in Friday's series opener (8 hits to 5), but they were able to turn that advantage into just one run, scored by Nick Roscetti in the top of the first after a pair of singles and an RBI fielder's choice from Austin Guzzo. Of course, while Iowa pitchers only gave up five hits in the game, they walked seven batters, with Iowa starter C.J. Eldred issuing free passes to six Missouri State batters in his 5.2 innings pitched. He got tagged for four runs (three earned) in that session, a disappointing effort after a pair of good outings. Nick Allgeyer came on in relief of Eldred and pitched 2.1 innings of shutout ball, but Iowa's bats unfortunately never woke up. Daniel Aaron Moriel went 2/2 at the plate, while Nick Roscetti went 2/4 and scored Iowa's lone run of the game.
MISSOURI STATE 5, IOWA 4
Iowa's next two losses to Missouri State were both encouraging and agonizing. On Saturday, Iowa blew a 3-0 first inning lead, then rallied to tie the game at 4-4 in the top of the ninth... before losing on a walkoff walk (shrimp!) in the bottom of the ninth. Ugh. Tyler Peyton struggled off the mound again, throwing 100 pitches in 4.2 innings and giving up seven hits and three walks while striking out just five and giving up four earned runs. Nick Gallagher replaced Peyton and threw three innings of no-hit, shutout ball in relief. Unfortunately, he came back out for the ninth and gave up a double and three walks, including the game-ender. Ouch. This was a game where Iowa really missed last year's lockdown closer, Nick Hibbing.
Joel Booker hit the first pitch of the game for a lead-off triple and went 1/5 with two runs scored on the day, including the game-tying run in the top of the ninth. Nick Roscetti chipped in with a 2/5, one run, one RBI performance, and Robert Neustrom added a 3/4 outing for the Iowa hitters.
MISSOURI STATE 8, IOWA 6
Sunday's loss for Iowa was even more galling -- Iowa opened up a 6-2 lead on the Bears, before giving up three runs apiece in the bottom of the 7th and 8th innings to lose 8-6. Brutal. Calvin Mathews gave up two runs on three hits and two walks, but only pitched 3.0 innings -- the inability of Iowa's starters to go deep into games is really hurting Iowa's pitching depth -- which isn't great to begin with. Iowa trotted out six pitchers after Mathews, to varying degrees of effectiveness; Luke Vandermaten and Tyler Radtke endured the bulk of the meltdown as they combined to give up five runs on six hits in 3.0 innings of work.
Nick Roscetti went 2/4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI for Iowa, while Joel Booker was also very good, going 3/5 with a double and three runs scored. Unfortunately, they didn't get much help from the rest of the Iowa lineup, which has been a recurring problem for Iowa's batters -- only three Iowa hitters with at least 30 at-bats are hitting .300 or better (Booker, Roscetti, and Austin Guzzo).
IOWA 7, BRADLEY 6
Finally, a win! Iowa returned home after that tough weekend series against Missouri State. This game was originally scheduled for today (Wednesday), but weather concerns (let it snow!) moved it up to Tuesday. Iowa fell behind early -- 5-1 after three innings -- but kept chipping away at the Braves' lead (two runs in the fourth, a further two runs in the seventh). They were still down 6-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth, when Eric Schenck-Joblinske led things off with a triple and scored on a fielder's choice from Zach Daniels. Daniels advanced to second on a throwing error, then scored the winning run on a Nick Roscetti single. Roscetti was particularly good for Iowa in this game, going 3/4 with 4 RBI. Roscetti has been a clear bright spot for Iowa this season -- he's riding a 15-game hitting streak and for the year he's hitting .405, with a .554 slugging percentage and a .471 OBP. He leads Iowa in hits (30), doubles (8), runs scored (18), and RBI (19), and ranks second in home runs (1) and stolen bases (4).
Iowa went all hands on deck in terms of pitching for this game, using eight (!) pitchers, with none pitching more than 1.2 innings. Cole McDonald and Nick Allgeyer struggled they most for the Hawkeye hurlers -- they gave up five runs on eight hits and a walk in 2.1 innings to start the game. Shane Ritter (1.2 IP, no runs, no hits, two walks, two strikeouts), Ryan Erickson (1.2 IP, no runs, one hit, one walk, two strikeouts), and Jared Mandel (1.0 IP, no runs, one hit, no walks, three strikeouts) were Iowa's most effective pitchers, although Zach Daniels gets the unusual distinction of getting the win (he threw one inning of no-hit, shutout ball in the top of the ninth) and scoring the game-winning run. That doesn't happen very often.
NEXT: Iowa welcomes Maryland (10-10) to Iowa City for their weekend home opener (and Big Ten opener).