WHO: Ohio State Buckeyes (34-21, 15-8, RPI: 41)
WHEN: Thursday, May 24 -- 9:00 AM CT
WHERE: TD Ameritrade Park (Omaha, Nebraska)
TV: Big Ten Network
RADIO: Hawkeye Radio Network | TuneInRadio
Iowa baseball started the Big Ten Tournament with a 2-1 loss to Michigan in 10 innings, a game in which the Hawkeyes managed just one hit. Ohio State suffered the same fate in the next game, losing to Purdue, 8-2. These teams met earlier this season when Iowa took two of three games from the Buckeyes in Iowa City. Of course, Iowa had the same regular season result against Michigan and still finds itself a game away from elimination. Ohio State was a three-seed in D1Baseball's last NCAA Tournament bracketology, but an 0-2 stint in the BTT would likely put Ohio State on the bubble and possibly on the outside looking in. Iowa's season will end with another loss.
AT THE PLATE IN THE BTT
|C Tyler Cropley||4||0||0||0||0||0|
|1B Chris Whelan||3||0||0||1||0||0|
|2B Mitchell Boe||3||0||0||0||0||1|
|SS Kyle Crowl||4||0||0||0||0||1|
|3B Matt Hoeg||3||0||0||1||1||2|
|RF Robert Neustrom||3||0||0||1||0||0|
|CF Justin Jenkins||4||0||0||0||0||3|
|LF Ben Norman||3||0||0||0||0||0|
|DH Lorenzo Elion||3||1||0||0||0||0|
It was a frustrating day at the plate against Michigan, to say the least. The Hawkeyes didn't have a base runner past the fourth inning, despite the Wolverines losing their starter in the second inning. Ohio State sends out a right-handed pitcher today, meaning Rick Heller will likely start Austin Guzzo over Lorenzo Elion. However, after yesterday's lackluster performance at the plate, it wouldn't be surprising to see Heller switching up his lineup even more.
As I wrote earlier this week, Ohio State is one of the best offensive teams in the Big Ten. It jumped on Purdue early, scoring two runs in the first. Although after that the Boilermakers did hold Ohio State to three hits in the final eight innings. It will be surprising if their bats are silenced for a second straight game, though, as Ohio State led the conference in runs and ranked second in batting average and OBP during the regular season. That said, success hasn't always come when Ohio State's offense scores a lot of runs -- the Buckeyes are just 4-4 when scoring double-digit runs.
|Team||Elimination Game||vs Ohio St/Iowa|
|Iowa||RHP Cole McDonald (3-1, 3.33 ERA)||6 IP, ER, 3 H, 8 K, 1 BB|
|Ohio State||RHP Ryan Feltner (4-5, 4.97 ERA)||4 IP, 2 ER (7R), 6 H, 5 K, 3 BB|
Cole McDonald had a successful return against Penn State last weekend, striking out seven batters and allowing only one hit over seven innings. While Penn State's offense isn't as powerful as Ohio State's, McDonald was on a tear before getting injured against Michigan, throwing three straight quality starts against top offenses in the conference -- Illinois, Ohio State and Minnesota. During last year's BTT, McDonald started against Minnesota and allowed four earned runs on five hits over two innings. He is a completely different pitcher this year, but hopefully pitching in the last year's tournament helps calm his nerves. Nick Allgeyer likely is the only pitcher unavailable today, although Heller likely will try to avoid using Zach Daniels, who threw 38 pitches against Michigan, in a long relief role again and Jack Dreyer, who will start tomorrow if Iowa wins.
Ryan Feltner only gave up a couple of earned runs against Iowa during the regular season, but the Hawkeyes still made good contact and received a little luck from Ohio State's poor fielding. Feltner had an inconsistent end to the season, too. He had a quality start against Michigan State to end the year -- 6.2 IP, 3 ER (6R) -- but allowed six earned runs (seven total) over 5.2 innings the weekend before against Purdue. However, Feltner has flashed potential in a couple of big games this year, such as against Indiana, when he struck out a season-high nine batters over seven innings, and Oregon State earlier this season. Yesterday, Kyle Michalik (20 pitches) and Yianni Pavlopoulos (31) were the only relievers to pitch for Ohio State, meaning it has a well-rested bullpen, including its fantastic closer Seth Kinker.
We'll try to post updates in the comments, but feel free to join in, too.