More often than not, Iowa's won baseball games this season on the strength of their bats; as Tito ably showed the other day, Iowa's been a good hitting team pretty much all season and it's fueled most of their success.
So of course Iowa stayed alive in the Big Ten Tournament yesterday on the back of some very strong pitching performances in a 2-1 win over Minnesota. Blake Hickman, Jared Mandel, and Tyler Radtke combined to hold Minnesota to four hits and just one run yesterday... which was a very good thing because Iowa's hot bats only mustered two runs of their own in the game.
Perhaps the key sequence in the game came in the top of the sixth inning. Hickman had been pretty solid through five innings, giving up three hits and just one earned run (as well as three walks), but he got pulled after starting off the sixth with a four-pitch walk. His replacement, Mandel, got off to an inauspicious start when he plunked his first batter, giving Minnesota runners on first and second with no one out. From there, though, Mandel got into a groove, though, forcing a fly out and striking out the last two batters in the inning and escaping the sixth with no damage done.
Iowa still had to find a winning run somewhere, though, and it finally came in the eighth. Jake Mangler was hit by a pitch and moved to third after a single from Jake Yacinich. Tyler Potempa provided the game-winning RBI with a sacrifice fly. There was a little drama in the top of the ninth when Mandel walked Austin Athmann to lead off the inning, but Radtke came in and shut the door on the Gophers. Might want to work on those rally beards, Gophers:
Matt Brown (@MattSBN) May 22, 2014
With the win, Iowa's season stays alive for another day. Up next is Michigan in a game that's scheduled to get underway at 7:30 PM CT, with TV coverage from BTN. We'll have a preview of that game up a bit later. Should Iowa manage to get past the Wolverines, their reward would be a game at 9 AM (!) CT Saturday against Nebraska, who beat Michigan State, 3-2, on Thursday. And if they managed to beat Nebraska in that morning tilt, well, they'd have to do it all over again at approximately 5 PM CT on Saturday. (All games on BTN.) That's a lot of its and a lot of future results to ponder; Iowa has to beat Michigan tonight for any of that to matter. But it's been fun to see Iowa in the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2010 -- and it's even more fun to see that they're not interested in going home early from the tourney.