Iowa's wonderful ride in the Big Ten Tournament continued Friday with a wild come-from-behind win against Ohio State and now they find themselves just a game away from their third-ever appearance in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game. Standing in their way? A little turtle power.
WHO: #6 seed Maryland Terrapins (30-26 overall, 13-11 Big Ten)
WHAT: Third round of Big Ten Tournament
WHERE: TD Ameritrade Park (Omaha, NE)
WHEN: 9 AM CT (Saturiday, May 28)
TV: BTN (announcers: Kevin Kugler, Scott Pose, Danan Hughes)
RADIO: AM-800 KXIC (free), Hawkeye All-Access ($), TuneIn Radio*
*I'm not sure if the game will be on TuneIn Radio or not, but it's worth a shot.
Weather has played havoc with the schedule at the Big Ten Tournament, delaying two games on Thursday and stopping the late game (Michigan-Ohio State) last night due to lightning in the area. Ohio State led that game 5-2 in the bottom of the 2nd inning when it was stopped. They'll finish that game after the Iowa-Maryland game. Here's the current schedule for the action on Saturday and Sunday:
Saturday— Big Ten Baseball (@B1Gbaseball) May 28, 2016
IA vs MD at 9 a.m. CT
UM vs OSU continuation at 1 p.m. CT
UM/OSU vs. MSU at 5 p.m.
If Necessary IA vs MD at 9 p.m.
Sunday— Big Ten Baseball (@B1Gbaseball) May 28, 2016
If Necessary UM/OSU vs MSU at 9 a.m.
Championship Game at 1 p.m.
As for the Iowa game, here's what the outcomes of this morning's game mean:
IF IOWA WINS:
They'll play the winner of the other side of the bracket (either Michigan State, Michigan, or Ohio State) in the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game at 1 PM CT on Sunday, May 29.
IF IOWA LOSES:
They'll play Maryland again at approximately 9 PM CT tonight. The winner of that game will advance to the Big Ten Tournament Championship Game (see above), while the loser will go home.
Maryland is 2-1 in the Big Ten Tournament, beating Indiana 5-3 in their opener, losing 4-3 to Michigan State in the early game yesterday, and then beating Indiana again, 3-0, in a game last evening. They went 1-2 against Iowa earlier this year, losing 8-1 and 4-1 in the first two games of the series before winning the final game, 4-1. Those games were almost two months ago, though, so their predictive value may be limited -- both teams are playing differently (and better) than they were back then.
Maryland had three very solid starting pitchers this year -- Taylor Bloom, Mike Shawaryn, and Brian Shaffer. All three had ERAs that were 3.18 or lower, all three had very healthy strikeout-to-walk ratios (ranging from 4:1 to 6:1), and all three were holding opposing hitters to batting averages that were .259 or lower. The bad news (for the Terps) is that they've used all three of those pitchers in this tournament already -- Shawaryn pitched a complete game in their first win over Indiana and Shaffer pitched another complete game in their second win over Indiana last night. In-between, Bloom pitched 7.1 innings in a losing effort against Michigan State yesterday morning. The good news for the Terps is that while they won't have any of their three star pitchers available for their remaining games, they will have a well-rested bullpen -- Maryland's relievers have only pitched 1.2 innings in the Big Ten Tournament so far, which is less than Iowa's relievers, even though the Terps have played an additional game.
The Terps' bats struggled in Big Ten play this year -- they posted a .237 team batting average in Big Ten games, second-worst in the league. Their .326 slugging percentage was fourth-worst in the league and their .329 on-base percentage was also fourth-worst in the league. That said, they did manage to score 101 runs (same as Iowa), which was tied for the 7th highest total in the league. In the Big Ten Tournament, their offense has managed 11 runs on 27 hits, so they've been a bit more effective in Omaha.
Nick Cieri has been their most effective hitter in Omaha, going 5/9 in three games with a double, a home run, and three walks. Anthony Papio is hitting 5/13 with a home run, while Marty Costes is hitting 4/12 with two doubles, a triple, and a home run. Nick Dunn is hitting 4/12 with a double and Zach Jancarski is also hitting 4/12 with a double. Dunn was Maryland's top hitter this year and their only hitter batting over .300 for the season (.304). Maryland's hitters do have some pop, though -- three of them have hit at least eight home runs.
Iowa: RHP Calvin Mathews (SR, 0-4, 6.29 ERA) or RHP Shane Ritter (FR, 2-1, 3.38 ERA)
Mathews has struggled mightily this year while dealing with a serious arm injury, but he did manage to pull things together well enough for a solid (if brief) outing in his last appearance against Michigan State two weeks ago: 3.2 innings, no runs, and just one hit. A repeat performance would be wonderful to see. Iowa could also opt to start Ritter, a young player who's seen action in 12 games this year, but started just one.
Like Maryland, Iowa figures to have a short leash when it comes to pitching in this game. Their relievers haven't been quite as underused as Maryland's have been so far, but only Luke Vandermaten, who pitched two innings yesterday against Ohio State, may not be available this morning.
Maryland: RHP Hunter Parsons (FR, 2-2, 3.06 ERA)
Parsons is slated to get the nod for the Terps and while he's not been a regular weekend starter for the Terps, he has started four games for Maryland this season. In addition to his solid ERA, he's posted a good K:BB ratio (almost 3:1), and he's held opposing hitters to a crazy-low .192 batting average in his 32.1 innings of work this season. Given that the Terps barely touched their bullpen in the first three games, though, the guess here is that it will be all hands on deck for the Terps and the manager won't be shy about replacing Parsons with another bullpen arm if he struggles early on.
This is both the preview for today's game and the game thread, so feel free to post your thoughts in the comments.