The State of Iowa has a quietly rich baseball heritage. There's Cap Anson, the first 3,000 hit man in Major League Baseball. There's...the Iowa Oaks. And...that one time in the 1970s Iowa went to the College World Series. So maybe not a lot.
But Field of Dreams, though. Ahh, yes. The 1989 Phil Alden Robinson film inextricably ties Iowa to baseball and baseball to Iowa. "Is this heaven? No. It's Iowa." That's right, Shoeless Joe. And when all the players emerge from...
WHAT IN THE NAME OF MOONLIGHT GRAHAM?!?
Not in this house, Indiana! Now we could give you the benefit of the doubt and presume you just have a horribly inept grasp on your own geography. But no. Not buying it. Even from you. This is Hollywood fantasy heritage misappropriation AT ITS VERY WORST!
The Solution, I think, is obvious. A MANCOTT! And opportunity to implement it: Iowa (14-6) and Indiana (16-5), both receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, square off for a three-game series this weekend at Duane Banks Field. Our baseball writing here has been nothing but objective for the thirteen months or so that we've been doing it. But not this weekend! You want a preview, Indiana??? Fine. Here it is....
The series opens at 3:00 PM CT Friday in Iowa City, a stone's throw from where Ray Kinsella dug up his crop to literally revive a scarred baseball legend. Tyler Peyton (2-2, 3.14 ERA) toes the rubber against IU southpaw Caleb Baragar (0-0, 0.57 ERA). I think the first thing one notes when looking at Baragar's numbers--including 19 K in 15.2 IP and a .157 oppAvg.--is that he is winless. Iowa has struggled with run-scoring spark all year, averaging just 4.7 runs/game against a middling non-conference slate. But Baragar obviously can't close the deal. Look for a 1-0 Iowa win in the opener. Go Iowa Awesome.
The teams re-convene on Saturday at 2:00 PM CT. Blake Hickman (2-1, 3.19) takes the bump for Iowa against righty Jake Kelzer (1-0, 3.27). Indiana may figure to need a little more run support for Kelzer than for Baragar. The leading Hoosier run producer is Casey Rodrigue with 17 RBI and 16 runs scored (while racking up 3 3B and 3 HR). I struggle to see the winning strategy there; okay, so Rodrigue drives himself in with a solo dinger, and as a courtesy, I'll allow for one of Indiana's five other double-digit RBI guys to drive in one of Indiana's eight other double-digit run-scorers... Or not. This is a MANCOTT, son! Indiana gets only a solo dinger from Rodrigue in game two. 2-1 Iowa.
The series concludes at 1:00 PM CT on Sunday. Iowa pocket ace Calvin Mathews (2-0, 0.35) looks to avenge Iowa's earlier loss to TBA, who was pitching for Middle Tennessee State at the beginning of March, and must have some tremendous sort of transfer waiver thing going on. The third spot in Indiana's rotation is a big question spot right now, largely due the injury-related absence of Scott Effross (2-2, 1.71). But the Hoosiers have a tremendous bullpen, as shown earlier in Dispatches from Blogfrica. Nonetheless, Iowa's bats have to get going at some point. Joel Booker (.342, 2 HR, 13 RBI), Jake Mangler (.333, 14 RBI, 5 SB), and Eric Toole (.337, 2 3B, 13 SB) will be out to grab an early lead that the vaunted Hoosier bullpen can't get back with Mathews on the mound for Iowa.
There, Indiana. That's what I think of your program.
The Saturday and Sunday games are on BTN Plus from BTN2Go ($). Otherwise, Gametracker and Hawkeye All-Access (also $).
Usual gamethread rules apply. No porn, no politics, no personal attacks, but ALL THE MANCOTTING!