After last night's loss to Missouri State, there's only one option remaining for Iowa baseball in the Regionals: win or go home. First on deck: a rematch with Iowa's Friday opponent, the Oregon Ducks. Oregon eliminated Canisius, 12-4, in a loser's bracket game yesterday. If Iowa wins, they'll get a rematch with Missouri State on Sunday night.
I'm going to reproduce Randy Johnson's Mullet's Oregon preview from Friday because, frankly, not much has changed re: the Ducks since then.
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's opponent is TBA. The Ducks rely heavily on Stephen Nogosek and Garrett Cleavinger out of the bullpen, with the two combining for 75 appearances and 124 strikeouts in just over 90 innings.
Info: 2 PM (CT), Springfield, MO at Hammons Field
Media: 800 AM KXIC & 1360 KMJM (radio); ESPN3 (TV)
Pitching: Iowa's Calvin Mathews (5-3, 2.67 ERA) vs. Oregon's TBA
Weather: Highs in the 60s, little chance of rain
Iowa's season probably comes down to two factors: will Calvin Mathews have his best stuff and will Iowa's bats be able to string together enough hits to score some runs? Mathews struggled in his last outing, a 10-2 loss to Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament, lasting just 2.1 innings and giving up 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk. Iowa's bats haven't been able to get much going this weekend in Springfield; let's hope they can get a few hits against Oregon's pitchers.
If Iowa wins they play Missouri State again at 7 PM (CT). If they lose, their season is done.
We'll update the game in the comments here.