Well … the Iowa baseball squad couldn’t quite muster the same magic tonight in Houston that led to its tantalizing B1G title run.
The elimination game between the Cougars and Hawkeyes started rather ominously, to the tune of a more than 5-hour rain/lightning delay down in southeastern Texas. Nonetheless, college baseball fans were (eventually) treated to a gripping game between two talented teams, which featured a compelling tug-of-war on the scoreboard.
What started as a pitcher’s duel devolved into an entertaining, back-and-forth affair.
Houston drew first blood in the 3rd inning following a sacrifice fly, but the seal wouldn’t truly be broken before an explosive 5th inning for the Hawkeyes.
Catcher Tyler Cropley broke a streak of 11 straight batters retired by leading off the inning with a triple, kickstarting an inning that would see 3 runs score for the Hawks.
The Hawkeye lead was short-lived, however, as Drake Robison, who had turned in an excellent outing to that point, surrendered three straight hits and three earned runs to give Houston a 4-3 lead in the 6th.
However, in the following half inning, Rick Heller’s squad was able to draw back to even after a leadoff double from Robert Neustrom eventually led to a run.
The Hawkeyes held serve at 4-4 until the 8th inning, when an RBI single regained the lead for Houston.
That was until Jake Adams belted (and I mean belted) his NCAA-leading 29th homerun of the season.
Adams’ homer tied the game up and set the stage for a fascinating final inning which started with …
A homerun for the Cougars.
And that would be enough.
Houston tacked on another run as Josh Martsching, who had been stellar throughout the postseason, surrendered several well-struck hits. Ultimately, those final two runs would be too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome in the final frame.
But don’t get me wrong: while it was a disappointing way to lose, “disappointing” is far from the right term to describe this Hawkeye baseball season. Rick Heller clearly has this team on the right track, and I dare say #Hellerball will only get more compelling as time goes on.
This is a team that just won a Big Ten Tournament Title and gave three Texas teams all they could handle in the College World Series. I’m not necessarily one for moral victories, but it doesn’t take a rainbow-pumping optimist to realize that that ain’t nothing.
But with that said, see you all next year. I have a feeling there’s some unfinished business in this Hawkeye dugout.