Hawkeyes Find Out Monday if Resume Results in Regional Bid
The fate of Iowa’s baseball season will be announced on Monday morning.
The Hawkeyes have done all that they can do, made a case that they think is good.
Whether they make the 64-team NCAA tournament field remains to be seen, and when you’re a bubble team like the Hawkeyes, you can lament the things that went wrong during the season.
Iowa’s last chance to make a statement came on Sunday, and a 13-1 loss to Michigan in an elimination game of the Big Ten tournament was the final punctuation mark on a 36-19 season.
Iowa coach Rick Heller made a passionate plea for his team after the game.
“First of all, if we don’t get into the tournament, it’s a travesty,” Heller said. “If anybody deserves to get into the tournament, this team does. Our resumé is as strong as anybody out there.”
Heller pointed out how the Hawkeyes won their last six Big Ten series, including a sweep of Indiana to close the season. That, plus the three wins the Hawkeyes had in the conference tournament in Omaha, should be convincing enough, Heller said.
He ran through a list of all of the nonconference wins as well.
“I mean, we played a tough schedule,” Heller said. “This team, since mid-March, has played as good as any team in the country.”
The physics of a college baseball tournament changed with one loss, and yet the Hawkeyes nearly dug out of the hole they created with the 5-2 loss to Penn State in Thursday’s first-round game.
Iowa was chasing the bracket from that point. The Hawkeyes edged Purdue, 5-4, on Friday, then won two games on Saturday, defeating Penn State 11-3 and Michigan 7-3.
The one thing you try to avoid in a tournament is taxing your pitching staff, which is why you want to avoid the elimination bracket as much as possible, and Heller was looking for answers in the final games.
He went to hard-throwing freshman Brody Brecht to start Sunday’s game, but Brecht could only get one out, giving up two walks, a hit, and two runs. Heller would use six more pitchers, four in Michigan’s nine-run seventh inning that broke the game open.
The Hawkeyes allowed nine walks, which just fed the Wolverines.
“Today was disappointing, it didn’t go as planned,” Heller said. “Anytime you’re in a situation like this, if you’re going to have a chance, you have to eliminate the free bases. It was a free base fest from the start, and it didn’t work out. Unfortunately, if it had worked out, it was a great day to pitch with the wind howling in and it was a tough day to hit. When we did throw strikes, we had success.”
Michigan’s pitchers held the Hawkeyes to just five hits, but the Wolverines’ day was clouded by the ejection of pitcher Willie Weiss, who was caught with a foreign substance in his glove and was ejected. The Big Ten later announced that Weiss would face a four-game suspension.
All of that meant little with the Wolverines’ seventh-inning eruption, and the Hawkeyes were left to await what comes next.
Heller knows the Hawkeyes’ RPI says — they were ranked No. 55 before Sunday’s game. He hopes the selection committee digs deeper.
“The RPI is just a gauge,” Heller said. “The RPI has flaws. And that’s why we have humans on the committee — to make educated decisions when the RPI is wrong. And the RPI is wrong sometimes. It’s not perfect.
“It’s a good gauge, and that’s it.”