Iowa baseball’s 2018 season likely came to a close this morning as the Hawkeyes fell to Ohio State 2-0 in the loser’s bracket of the Big Ten Tournament.
OSU got on the board in the first inning and that was enough. With one on Tyler Cowles took a 1-0 pitch from Cole McDonald to send Kobbie Fop across the plate.
Iowa’s bats stayed relatively quiet for the next few innings. The Buckeyes got back on the board in the fifth when Fop got his second hit of the day to send Matt Carpenter home.
That would be the end of McDonald’s day. He allowed 7 hits, 2 runs and struck out 4 in 4.1 innings of work. Nick Nelsen came in to relieve McDonald and finish out the inning.
Iowa’s best scoring chance came in the seventh inning when Kyle Crowl led off the inning with a walk. Justin Jenkins then advanced off a fielding error to put two men on for Wallace. He would strike out looking, then Mitchell Boe grounded into a double play. Iowa had a runner on base in every inning except for the sixth and ninth — as we saw yesterday, the Hawkeye bats just couldn’t come alive.
Grant Judkins and Leonard finished out the top of the ninth to give Iowa one last chance to bat. Buckeye closer Seth Kinker kept things calm, striking out Matt Hoeg and forcing Crowl and Jenkins to ground out. Iowa amassed just 4 hits on the day and struck out 9 times.
It wasn’t the magical season for Iowa baseball like we saw last year, but still a step in the right direction. Rick Heller’s team amassed over 30 wins once again, but some late-season flounders sunk the team’s RPI which will certainly hurt the Hawkeyes when at-large bids to regionals are handed out.
There’s no question Iowa baseball is in a better place with Heller in command. Omaha is calling. We’re just going to have to wait another year to get there.