When the BHGP issued an open invite last spring to those wanting to write on Iowa Baseball I jumped in, hoping I could offer some baseball insight as the Hawks meandered through Big Ten play and a conference tournament appearance. One year, 69 victories (nice), and zero BHGP media credentials later I find myself writing about the first Hawkeye tournament team since I was three months old. Let's get it on!
Prior to 2009, Oregon had not won a college baseball game since 1981. How the hell is that possible, you ask?! Well, Oregon dropped baseball (*Iowa State and UNI fans nod understandingly*) in '81 and the program remained dormant until the 2008-09 season. Head coach George Horton arrived in Eugene following 11 years (and one national title) at Cal State-Fullerton. Horton has created a top program in only six short years, winning only 14 games in 2009 and 40 games in 2010, a 22 game improvement and the second best all time. Oregon earned top eight seeds in 2012 and 2013 and entered 2015 fresh off a 44-win campaign. Despite a promising start, the Ducks became fowl in March and April, entering May with a losing PAC-12 record (7-11) and an overall record (25-19) contradictory to expectations. Undeterred, Oregon caught fire in the last month, winning 9 of 10 games down the stretch (including taking two of three from #1 National Seed UCLA in the regular season finale) to finish the year 37-23 overall and earn their fourth straight NCAA bid.
Stats and Stuff
|Grebeck||of||.227/9 2b/15 SH|
|Tolman||3b||.329/19 2b/ 40RBI|
|Craig-St. Louis||of||.294/60 hits/37RBI|
|Peterson||4-6||4.39ERA/81K in 82IP|
Oregon baseball lacks the offensive firepower found on the football field in Eugene. As a team, the Ducks bring a .254 average into the regional with only one player, Mitchell Tolman, hitting over .300. Horton's squad is a classic West Coast team, however, dropping down 79 sacrifice bunts throughout the course of the season (Iowa was third in the B1G with 39 in comparison). Oregon's reliance on bunting worries me if catcher Jimmy Frankos is unable to play due to last week's concussion.
On the bump, Iowa will likely see sophomore lefthander Cole Irvin. Irvin's was a freshman all-American in 2013 but missed all of 2014 due to Tommy John surgery. The Ducks rely heavily on Stephen Nogosek and Garrett Cleavinger out of the bullpen, with the two combining for 75 appearances and 124 strikouts in just over 90 innings.
Info: 1 PM (CT), Springfield, MO at Hammons Field
Media: 800 AM KXIC & 1360 KMJM (radio); ESPN3 (TV)
Pitching: Iowa's Tyler Peyton (6-4, 3.18 ERA) vs. Oregon's TBA (30-0, 0.10 ERA [probably])
Weather: 77 degrees and partly cloudy with storms increasing throughout the afternoon
Iowa has been generally awful against lefthanded pitching this year and both Irvin and Cleavinger are southpaws, leaving me a tad pessimistic. Oregon can't hit worth a shit, so hopefully Peyton can give the Hawks another quality outing. If Iowa can handle the Ducks small-ball they should come away with the victory; Irvin is beatable.
If Iowa wins they play Saturday at 6 PM (CT). If the Hawks lose they play Saturday at 1 PM (CT). Win or lose, the Hawks will play either Missouri State or Canisius.
We'll update the game in the comments here.