Minnesota won the regular season Big Ten baseball championship behind some electric bats -- the Gophers led the league in several offensive categories and boasted an entire starting lineup of hitters that boasted batting averages north of .300. C.J. Eldred didn't care about any of that. Iowa's starting pitcher put Minnesota's bats on ice, holding the Gophers to six hits, two runs, and two walks while striking out five in a strong seven innings. Iowa needed Eldred to go deep into the game if possible, to help save the relievers for the remainder of the tournament -- and he did just that. His lone mistake was giving up two-run dinger to Connor Schaefbauer that cut Iowa's lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the third. He rebounded nicely after that and pitched four more scoreless innings. You an't ask for more out of Eldred, especially against such a dangerous lineup.
Eldred also got considerable assistance from his offense, which certainly helped. The Hawkeyes jumped on Minnesota starter (and Big Ten Player of the Year) Matt Fiedler from the jump, plating two runs in the top of the first and three more in the second to give Iowa a 5-0 lead before anyone had gotten settled. Overall, Iowa racked up five runs on eight hits and two hits on Fiedler and chased him after just 2.1 innings. What was it I said in the preview for this game?
Hopefully Iowa's bats come to play early in this game and can chase him early.
Iowa posted eight runs total against three Gopher pitchers and that might have been the minimum they could have scored in this game -- Iowa's bats totaled a whopping 18 hits and drew five walks; they were practically drowning in baserunners. In fact, they left 14 men on base -- and still won easily. (But let's try to avoid that in future games, guys -- other teams might punish Iowa for that profligacy with runners on base more than the Gophers did.) Iowa also added two stolen bases and didn't go down in order in a single inning all game.
As you'd expect in a game where Iowa blasted 18 hits, there were a lot of good offensive performances -- just two Iowa hitters (Eric Schenck-Joblinske and Zach Daniels) failed to get at least one hit and five hitters had two or more hits. DH Austin Guzzo went 3/5 and got Iowa on the board in the first with a two-run double and red-hot Tyler Peyton continued his recent stretch of torrid hitting with a 4/6 outing that include a double, a triple, two singles, two runs scored, and an RBI.
But we have to show some love to Joel Booker who was absolutely on fire at the plate on Wednesday. He went 5/5 (all singles) with a walk, scored a run, picked up an RBI, and stole a base (his 23rd of the season). His five hits tied a single-game record for Iowa, the Big Ten Tournament, and TD Ameritrade Park. He had a chance to get a record-breaking sixth hit in the ninth, but unfortunately had to settle for a walk. Still: five hits is pretty damn remarkable. There's only one way to commemorate that:
CAN YOU DIG IT, SUCKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
So yeah. That was fun! Let's do it again on Thursday!
A look back at Wednesday's 8-2 win by the Hawkeyes over the top-seeded Gophers! https://t.co/sj822tO8hm— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) May 26, 2016
NEXT: Iowa will play Ohio State on Thursday at 9 PM CT on BTN.