Terre Haute — With the lights on for the NCAA Tournament, the line between regional victory and season disappointment is so thin that Iowa State Baseball left both teams at the mercy of Friday night. Loser bracket fights are no fun. It is imperative that any extended stay starts with a win.
Rick Heller’s team arrived in Terre Haute as newcomers to the region. I finished Friday with a feeling of tension that would last a lifetime.
Iowa’s solid offense, which the Hawkeyes dominated throughout the 9th inning of North Carolina’s drama, nearly vanished, but relief pitcher Luke Llewellyn hit the Tar Heels with a game-winning run and a tie in scoring position. He defeated two men and defended Iowa’s 5-4 win against Bob. warning field.
Getting to that point was no easy task. As expected, tense baseball dominated the night, testing Iowa in a one-time peril until the final frame. The game, which Iowa controlled all the way through, became dramatically shaky in the closing stages after Albert Osuna nullified Iowa’s two runs in the eighth inning and a slugging home run from Will Kristoffersen in the ninth. .If this was the first sign of tar heel life in a few innings, it could have rattled another group, especially after North Carolina hit extra and suddenly scored the winning run in scoring position.
Heller replaced Luke Llewellyn with a right arm that the slider is good at. After hitting a double, Llewellyn hit another double to put everyone at Gold’s mind at ease.
In the drama of the end, the Hawkeyes took control early and nearly wiped out Iowa’s score by scoring two runs in the first inning on Sam Hosiner’s reverse double to the left field line. The Hawkeyes have focused on two-out action all season long, but as North Carolina misses one chance after another, their ability to jump at the first opportunity becomes all the more important.
Marcus Morgan, tasked with the Hawkeyes’ first local start in six years, spent the night hiding, diving and avoiding trouble, refusing to let North Carolina cash in on big traffic. The adversity set in immediately—like Morgan’s early second pitch to leadoff man Casey Cook—but Iowa’s immediate reaction set the tone for a damage-control-filled evening. arranged.
The Tar Heels had runners in scoring position in four of the first six frames, with the bases loaded twice in the first and twice in the fourth, before a sacrifice fly from an unflattering Morgan. could only collect one. Despite walking four and hitting two in five otherwise solid innings, the right-hander stopped six tar heels to give Iowa the lead.
Jack Whitlock got the cue and, after relinquishing two more in the sixth, ran through the next two frames for a near-perfect three-inning relief out. It was significant that the current best weapon in the Iowa bullpen recovered from a grueling Big Ten Tournament title game. Whitlock left little doubt about the question.
Just when a score under five seemed to secure the Hawkeyes their first win of the season, here comes the tension-relieving production that dominated last week’s trip to Omaha, Iowa. The Hawkeyes punched out two tar heel relievers in the eighth inning and doubled on an RBI by Brayden Frazier and a stunning safety squeeze by Cade Moss. When the seasons get out of balance, there’s no such thing as too much cushion.
Now Saturday, with a game against Indiana State University, Heller will formally face the team he led from 2010 to 2013. Iowa State kicked off the 2023 season with a victory over the Sycamores in Florida. This time it’s a little more dangerous, but Iowa doesn’t seem like a team unprepared for this moment.
Dargan Southard is a sports trends reporter covering Iowa track and field for the Des Moines Register and HawkCentral.com. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.