Hawkeyes Drop Important Series to Michigan State

May 12, 2019

Written by Rob Howe

Photo Gallery

HN TV: Rick Heller Interview

Box Score

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The message was straightforward. Iowa coach Rick Heller wanted his team looking ahead, not back. The Hawkeyes had no choice.

Reflecting on this weekend’s missed opportunity would only hurt more. They can’t do anything about stumbling in their push towards the postseason.

Iowa looked poised to win its seventh series in a row, leading 4-1 after six innings Sunday. The Hawkeyes wilted in the top of the seventh, however, yielding five runs in what would be a 7-5 loss to Michigan State.

After taking Friday night’s opener here at Banks Field, they dropped the final two games of the series. Sunday’s setback stung a little more with it being Senior Day.

Iowa (30-19 overall, 12-9 Big Ten) really needed a winning weekend against a Spartan outfit that came into town with only 17 wins overall and five in the league. The visitors entered the weekend with the No. 179 RPI, according to the NCAA.com rankings.

The Hawkeyes were striving to clinch a NCAA Tournament berth before the Big Ten Tournament. Things were trending up until this weekend’s snag.

“It hurts, for sure,” Iowa coach Rick Heller said. “But if we can go out and get hot here, four more to play, hopefully play well, and then play well in the conference tournament if we can get in, we can still do some damage and do some things.

Continue reading below

Related In HawkeyeNation Forums

“But definitely a tough day today.”

Heller was pleased with his team’s effort. It just didn’t make as many key plays as did Michigan State.

A two-out single by senior Chris Whelan in the third and an unearned run in the fourth staked the Hawkeyes to a 2-0 lead. An RBI-base hit by Izaya Fullard and an Austin Martin sacrifice fly in the fifth pushed the advantage to 4-1, where it remained until the top of the seventh.

Heller pulled starting pitcher Grant Judkins (6 inn., 7 Ks, 1 BB, 1 ER, 85 pitches) in favor of Trace Hoffman, who was making his team-high 27th appearance. A pretty reliable middle man this season, the junior from Cascade didn’t have his best stuff on this day.

Continue reading below

Hoffman (5-2) retired the first batter before allowing infield single and a walk. He induced a fly ball for the second out, and it looked like he might wiggle out of the jam.

Then, it fell apart.

Michigan State leadoff hitter Bryce Kelley delivered an RBI single before Hoffman beaned Dan Chmielewski to load the bases. Shortstop Marty Bechina cleared them with a three-run double to right center off of an 0-1 hanging slider.

Grant Leonard relieved Hoffman and allowed an RBI single before ending the frame. MSU led 6-4.

“It’s kind of the same old, same old,” Hoffman said. “I just have to keep making pitches. They took advantage of some things. They executed well. Tip your cap to them.”

Continue reading below

The Spartans added an insurance run in the top of the ninth. Iowa came up in the bottom of the frame trailing 7-4.

The Hawkeyes mounted a rally, adding an unearned run, senior Mitchell Boe scoring following a one-out double. However, MSU closer Indigo Diaz secured his seventh save of the season by inducing a game-ending flyout from Martin with runners on second and third.

Heller pointed out the lack of production from the middle of his lineup. The 4-6 hole batters went hitless in 11 trips to the plate.

The pressure ramps up for the Hawkeyes as they head out on the road for their final four games of the regular season. They play at Western Illinois on Tuesday before a Thursday-Saturday Big Ten series at Maryland. They may need to win out if they’re hoping to wrap up an NCAA bid before the league tournament.

“I would say that if they do anything like they’ve done it all year, we’ll be fine,” Heller said. “We talked about the fact that we can still do a lot of things that we want to do. We just have to clean some stuff up this week and just continue to get better.

“But I don’t think this group will go out and lay down or anything like that. They’ll come back and fight this week.”

Trending in Forums View All >

HawkeyeNation Archives View All >

B1G Media Day Notebook: Oliver Martin Appeal in Works, Alcohol at Kinnick

Rob Howe

July 19, 2019

Transfer receiver waiting for word, booze in the stadium

Reshuffling B1G Divisions

Jon Miller

July 19, 2019

There was some chatter at the Big Ten Media Days about the Big Ten shuffling its division lineup. Jon Miller writes that there is a seemingly obvious swap on the table.

Schwartz: B1G Football Unofficially Officially Here

David Schwartz

July 18, 2019

Big Ten football media days are underway in Chicago.

Hawkeyes Release Pre-Season Depth Chart

Rob Howe

July 18, 2019

A look at the two-deeps as camp approaches.

Miller: Predicting Iowa’s Record

Jon Miller

July 18, 2019

Jon Miller offers up his prediction for Iowa’s record for the 2019 season.

Hawkeyes Jump in with Chicago Guard Ahron Ulis

Rob Howe

July 17, 2019

Iowa offers brother of former top target.

Hawkeye History Podcast: Tangela Smith

Rob Howe

July 16, 2019

Catching up with former Big Ten Player of the Year and new Iowa Hall of Fame inductee.

Kiyron Powell Sees Iowa as Excellent Opportunity

Rob Howe

July 15, 2019

Evansville (IN) power forward plans to visit Hawkeyes.

TOP