A lot happened yesterday. Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa Football squad stole a commitment from ND and landed 4-star DB DJ Johnson. Manny Rugamba was suspended for the Hawkeyes’ season opener against Wyoming for violating team rules. And Peter Jok signed with the Phoenix Suns’ training camp squad.
In the midst of all that, you may have forgotten that the Iowa baseball team is representing the red, white, and blue in Taipei at the World University Games! And last night, they played their third game of pool play, where they fell to Japan, 11-5.
The loss puts the squad at 2-1 in Pool B play after starting 2-0 thanks to a 3-2 victory over Mexico on Saturday (Sunday in Taipei) and a 13-3(!) victory over Russia late Monday night (early yesterday morning in Central time).
The World University Games includes two pools of four teams. Each pool will send its top two teams onto the Medal Round, which consists of a Super/Consolation Round from the 25-26, a Semifinals/Super Round/Finals/Consolation Round from August 27-28, and a Gold Medal/Bronze Medal Finals on August 29th. What a mouthful!
So last night’s game in essence didn’t matter, since both teams knew they would advance, since Japan also entered the game with a 2-0 record. It was just a matter of determining seeding.
Ok, now onto some recaps of how the Team USA Hawkeyes got to this point:
The eighth inning was the story of this game. After being held without a hit for seven innings and being down a run, Team USA placed runners on 1st and 3rd, thanks to Ben Norman getting hit by a pitch and Robert Neustrom’s single to right.
Neustrom then stole second and was batted home with Norman thanks to a sacrifice fly from Tyler Cropley. The game winning run came thanks to an RBI from Brett McCleary, which put Team USA up 3-1.
Zach Daniels pitched for Team USA in the eighth and ninth, allowing a run in the ninth, but was able to close it out and seal a strong victory for America that (in hindsight) took the pressure off emerging to the Medal round. The HawkeyeSports write-up linked above has some more interesting stats if you’re interested.
In what turned out to be a completely opposite game from their opener, Team USA ousted Russia in 7 innings, thanks to a 10-run lead run-rule. Let’s check out some video!
Highlights from USA Team's run-rule victory against Russia Tuesday evening in Taiwan: https://t.co/vrI2FD9axw— Iowa Baseball (@UIBaseball) August 22, 2017
That’s a lot of runs!
11 over the course of four innings, if you’re keeping track at home, over the course of the fourth inning until...the end of the game in the seventh.
Team USA was up 2-1 after three innings, a respectable, but close, matchup against the Russians. But then things got out of hand, with America scoring a pair of runs in the fourth inning, and three per inning until the end of the game. Russia went through 5 pitchers throughout the course of those seven innings, with none going longer than two innings. Sammy Lizarraga, meanwhile, pitched 5 innings for Team USA, allowing only three hits and three runs, along with seven strikeouts.
A good chunk of the Team USA roster got hits in this one, but give the game ball to Robert Neustrom, who hit two triples in the game and two RBIs. Chris Whelan ended the night 3-3 from the plate and hit in four RBIs. Check out the full box score here.
For all you folks who have been following Iowa baseball since this season (like me!), we all know how lethal this team can be when they heat up offensively. Let’s hope it continues in a few hours and into the more important rounds of the tournament.
There’s still a lot to come before the end of this tournament, and adding a World University Games tournament victory would certainly close out an already memorable year with a bang.
Team USA jumped out to an early 3-0 lead thanks to a three-run homer in the second from Matt Hoeg. But in the fourth and fifth, Japan erased the deficit with ease, thanks to a Grand Slam in the fifth. Team USA would never regain the lead.
Freshman Jack Dreyer pitched four innings in his debut on the mound, allowing a hit and an unearned run. But Japan was too much for American bullpen; its difference-maker was Keita Nakagawa, who ended the day 2-4 at the plate with 7 RBIs. Damn.
While it wasn’t as good of a showing as the night before against Russia, thankfully this isn’t the end for Rick Heller’s Team USA. They will next face the Czech Republic, Pool A’s top seed, at 5:30 a.m. CT Friday morning.
This tournament is far from over!