Iowa Puts Itself In a Hole. A Really Deep Hole
We can’t have nice things. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s look at today’s game and then move on to tomorrow. Iowa faced Penn State in the first game of the 2022 Big Ten Tournament. The Hawks came in as the 3 seed while the Nittany Lions were the 6. Iowa (33-18) fell 5-2 and now faces the loser of the Rutgers/Purdue game. The Hawks’ second game will be Friday at 9am. If Iowa loses, it will be eliminated in the double-elimination format.
Iowa’s ace Adam Mazur was reported to have battled back spasms the past two starts. Mazur was decent, especially considering he threw a tailor-made double play ball that couldn’t find its way out of the webbing of a glove. This led to Penn State’s first two runs. Peyton Williams crushed a ball to straightaway center that nearly went out. The Charles Schwab Field (Omaha) is listed at 408 feet whereas Duane Banks (Iowa) is 395. It was that kind of day. The biggest play of the day was Penn State’s best hitter and all-conference selection, Matt Wood, nearly hitting a ball out of the stadium. He crushed a 3-run home run that was the difference.
It was a frustrating game from an umpiring standpoint. It felt like the Big Ten told the home plate umpire that he had to get the game in quickly to make up for lost time (weather). Iowa was called out on numerous strikes that nearly hit Hawkeye batters. This was not the difference in the game, but it was pretty atrocious.
Iowa threw Adam Mazur, Duncan Davitt, and Ben Beutel. Iowa’s pitchers allowed just five hits and struck out 17 batters, but Iowa’s batters only could muster two hits. Dylan Nedved or Ty Langenberg will get the start tomorrow.
I had pretty good vibes going into the tournament. After one game I’ve done a complete 180. Iowa went 2-1 vs Rutgers and 2-1 against Purdue this year. That feels like payback time to me. So far this year Coach Rick Heller has been pushing the right buttons. Iowa’s back is against the wall. Not only in the Big Ten Tournament, but Iowa’s chances to make the NCAA Regionals took a huge hit as well. Iowa went from the highest statistical chance of winning the tournament to potentially being the first team out in a matter of twenty-four hours.
Iowa’s one-game season starts tomorrow. I would expect Iowa’s bats to bounce back. Iowa also can throw anyone and everyone tomorrow except for Mazur and Davitt. Heller will be tasked with making the right decisions, with an offseason to contemplate them. Not fun to think about.
The Scarlet Knights’ offense is scary. As a team Rutgers is slashing (BA/OBP/SLG) .320/.416/.541.
From a pitching perspective Rutgers has an elite staff. Their team ERA is 4.17. They allow a batting average of just .232.
Rutgers is a very tough out. Pun intended.
The Boilermakers’ offense is solid. Purdue slashes (.290/.397/.435). The Boilers do not have the pop in their lineup like the Scarlet Knights have.
Purdue’s pitching is suspect. The Boilermakers’ team ERA is 5.98. Their pitchers allowed a batting average of .283.
At this point from a statistical standpoint the Hawks are hoping for Rutgers to win. Purdue is a better matchup for Iowa to play another day. That said, we’ve gotta go out there and make plays. Whether the balls and strikes are called to our liking, players gotta make plays. Otherwise this terrific season will come to an end. As always, Go Hawks!