To steal a The Masters expression… It’s moving day at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament! We are down to 6 teams, and depending on how hot a team in the losers bracket gets, we will end the day with anywhere from 4 teams, or maybe just the final 2. Lots of action today, so lets get to it!
#3 Iowa - 11
#6 Penn State - 3
In a rematch of the first game of the tournament, Penn State got on the board first. A ground rule double with 2 runners on gave them a 1-0 lead. Had the ball stayed in play, they would have actually plated a 2nd run ass well. Iowa’s offense got off to a perplexing start. They loaded the bases each of the first 4 innings, but didn’t break through until the 4th. They used a pair of singles to give them a 4-1 lead after the 4th.
That was seemingly the spark they needed, as they unleashed a flurry of hits in the 5th, starting with a home run by outfielder and former Iowa Western CC star Kyle Huckstorf. They took advantage of a Penn State error to up the score to 7-1. Penn State mounted a rally in the 6th, taking advantage of a couple walks by Iowa’s reliever with a 2 RBI single. But Iowa would answer right back with 2 runs of their own.
A 2 run HR in the 8th by Hawkeye 1B Peyton Williams provided the cous de gras, knocking Penn State out of the tournament, and sending Iowa to play Michigan in the crossover game later this evening.
#1 Maryland - 4
#8 Indiana - 6
Elimination game number 2 featured another rematch after top seeded Maryland was upset at 1:30 am Saturday morning. And like last time, Indiana put the first run on the board. Using back to back singles followed by a sac fly to go up 1-0 in the 2nd. They would plate another in the 3rd as Big Ten Player of the Year Chris Alleyne bobbled a sharply hit single with a man running from first, then compounded the error with a throwing error way over the 3rd baseman’s head, allowing 2 free bases.
It looked like Allyne would make up for his mistake as he drilled a line drive to the left side of the infield with a Terapin runner on 3B, but a spectacular diving catch from Indiana’s all freshman third baseman ended the inning. Maryland finally broke through in the 4th, using a double and a single to score a run. The Terps then tied it up at 2-2 in the 5th, using 3 straight singles.
After briefly retaking a 1 run lead, Indiana nearly literally threw the game away in the 6th. With 2 runners on, Hoosier relief pitcher Brayden Tucker fielded a bunt, and after a slight hesitation, tried to throw out the runner at first when it was obviously too late. In his rush, he overthrew first, and both runners scored, giving Maryland the 4-3 lead. A double, plus an RBI double play in the top of the 9th would tie the game, and set us up for extra innings. And it was in the bottom of the 12th when Indiana hit a 2 RBI single to give them a 6-4 lead, which they would hang on to for the win to face Rutgers in the LATE game. The top seed has been eliminated.
#3 Iowa - 7
#5 Michigan - 3
The early part of this game featured great defense, but subpar pitching for a game that had no score through 4 innings. Michigan actually had the bases loaded in the 1st, all via the hit by pitch, but couldn’t come through with a hit or even sac fly. It took til the 5th inning, for Michigan’s defense to vaulter first, with an error to extend the inning. Then with 2 men on base, the Wolverines pitcher walked 2 straight Iowa batters to score the unearned run.
Iowa was able to add 2 more runs in the 6th on a 2 RBI triple. They attempted a suicide squeeze on the following pitch, and on a tremendous sliding bare handed grab and throw by the Michigan first baseman to the catcher, he was able to just barely get his foot in front of the plate, while applying the tag. The Iowa players foot was always resting on the top of the catchers foot, and confirmed after a short replay.
Since I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned replay, the Big Ten really has to revisit their replay policy for the regular season. They don’t do it because the teams have different quantities and qualities of video cameras, but something needs to be done for that. It’s not like teams playing in the same game have differences in quality. But they would have to care about baseball for that.
Michigan roared right back and loaded the bases in the bottom half of the inning. They then had a triple that scored two and almost 3, had it not been for a perfect relay by Iowa. The Hawkeye would ride the momentum of the good defensive play, and begin hammering the Michigan bullpen. They batted around in the 7th scoring 4 runs to extend the lead to 7-2. Michigan would threaten in the 8th with with 2 runners on and no outs, but Iowa turned to hard throwing Connor Schultz, who struck out the next 3 batters. That would be the last gasp for the Wolverines. Both teams will play again on Sunday for the chance to go to the championship.
#2 Rutgers - 14
#8 Indiana - 2
At 11:53pm, or “Omaha Primetime” as its known in the business, Indiana’s John-Biagio Modugno fired in the first pitch of the game to Ryan Lasko for Rutgers. Rutgers jumped on him early and often, accepting walks and pounding out singles to the tune of 4 runs in the top of the 1st. And using a walk and a double, followed by an RBI groundout to make it 6-0 and knock Modungo out of the game.
But Rutgers didn’’t stop there. A 2 RBI triple on a bad play by the Indiana outfield made it an 8-0 ballgame. And on the very next pitch Lasko hit a ball right at the first baseman, who did his best ole! And it was abundantly clear at that point that the Hoosiers were ready to call it a night at 9-0. The next couple of innings went off with no more runs being scored.
Then this happened…
Due to lightning in the area, we are in a weather delay. We will provide additional information as soon as it is available. #B1GBaseball— Big Ten Baseball (@B1Gbaseball) May 29, 2022
Check out that 1:51 am time stamp. Lightning is a mandatory 30 minute delay. And the fact that it was with 2 outs in the bottom of the 5th, with 2 strikes on the batter. One more strike, and they could have just called the game right then and there. But they did re-take the field shortly before 2:30 am. And you could tell they had an understanding. The two teams really didn’t take any pitches, swinging at nearly all of them. Indiana would hit a 2 run homer in the bottom of the 6th, and Rutgers added 5 in the 7th to activate the 10 run rule after 7 innings, at 3:14 am.
In a tournament marred by late nights, this was the latest of them all. One would think the Big Ten would have to secure a second site so that if they end up needing to condense the schedule like this again, they have a place to put an extra game that can start at, say 7 pm, just in case the other games go long. That way they are guaranteed a prime time game to be finishing up and then they can go to the next game finishing up as well. Tal Anderson Field or Werner Park could have accepted a game on the days 4 games were necessary to alleviate the teams and staff here.
Nevertheless, we are down to two games, Iowa and Michigan have a rematch at 1pm Sunday, with the winner set to take on Rutgers at 5 (yeah, sure) or more than likely, 45-50 minutes following the conclusion of the first game. If Rutgers wins, it is likely that the Big Ten only gets 2 teams in. But should one of the other two win, it will be 3 teams. So join us one last time for Championship Sunday!