DES MOINES, IA -- The Iowa Board of Regents met overnight Tuesday in emergency session, and voted for the entire Iowa community college system to be annexed into the University of Iowa. The decision was prompted by an 18-inning, 6-hour-and-2-minute baseball game between the University of Iowa (currently ranked 16th by Baseball America) and Sacramento State, which Iowa won 4-3.
The Hawkeyes used eight pitchers (tossing a combined 265 pitches) in the contest, after which the Board immediately convened and, without public notice and comment, turned the State's 31,000-student flagship institution into a statewide network with campuses in Fort Dodge, Ottumwa, and Mason City, among other locations. Regents spokesperson Wilma Poindexter explained: "The Board did not come by this decision lightly, but the University of Iowa baseball program is a legitimate contender for NCAA regionals this season--a once-in-a-generation occurrence historically--and for that program to suddenly be short on pitching due to an unanticipated mid-week marathon game was a true crisis. Iowa's junior college baseball programs have servicable, healthy pitchers, at the least, and this was the only way to place these student-athletes at the University's disposal immediately. Although it may seem to many that this decision was made without allowing ample time and input given its magnitude, I think the urgency of Luke Vandermaten pitching four innings on a Tuesday night speaks for itself."
Vandermaten, who pitched last year for the new University of Iowa-Fort Dodge (formerly Iowa Central Community College), pitched the tenth through thirteenth innings of Tuesday night's slog, seeing his ERA balloon to 0.64 when he surrendered just his second earned run this season in the top of the twelfth. Iowa answered with an unearned run, though, when Corbin Woods scored on the Hornets' second error of the inning to keep the game going. Iowa left the bases loaded in the fifteenth and seventeenth innings, but finally broke through for its fourth walk-off win in its last eight contests, when Eric Toole (3-for-8 in the game) scored another unearned run on a John Barrett sac fly in the bottom of the eighteenth.
Iowa coach Rick Heller was unavailable for comment Wednesday morning, after the Regents announced their decision. One source speculated that "he maybe just pulled his hat over his eyes and slept on the dugout bench after that one." Regardless of Coach Heller's take, the Regents were cognizant of how the team might perceive being invaded by a wave of newcomers in the middle of their regular-season stretch run.
"It's not that the Board doesn't have faith in the weekend starters to spell the 'pen this weekend," Poindexter clarified, "I mean, hell, that Hickman kid carries a no-no into the sixth every other Saturday. But it is very important to the State that its lone remaining major baseball program have every available resource at its disposal."
In a related story, University Athletics Director Gary Barta refused to comment on rumors that the school was petitioning the NCAA for a two-month special eligibility exemption for 47-year-old former Hawkeye and St. Louis Cardinal hurler Cal Eldred to return to the black and gold.
The Hawkeyes (31-11 overall and 13-2 in the Big Ten) return to action this Friday at Michigan.
BONUS! There are highlights of the marathon, too: