116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
The game was billed as a matchup between the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and the Big Ten Player of the Year. Those two didn't meet their regular-season standards, but the Iowa and Maryland baseball teams produced plenty of drama anyway in the first round of the Big Ten tournament Thursday in Bloomington, Ind.
Matt Hoeg's sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth scored Tyler Cropley, and the Hawkeyes advanced to the winners' bracket of the double-elimination tournament with a 9-8 victory. Iowa (35-19) will take on top-seeded Nebraska (35-18-1) at 12:30 p.m. central Friday (BTN). The Hawkeyes took two of three from the Cornhuskers in the regular season.
Iowa jumped on Maryland starter Brian Shaffer — he of the 1.67 ERA — early. Cropley took the first pitch of the second inning over the fence in right center and the Hawkeyes built a 4-0 lead, extending it to 6-1 in the third.
Shaffer allowed 10 hits and seven earned runs in 6 1/3 innings, walking one and striking out four. The Hawkeyes did their damage without the aid of Jake Adams, who ranks second in the nation with 24 home runs but was 0-for-5 with two strikeouts.
'We knew (Shaffer) was coming with a lot of fastballs, he likes to work off that fastball,' Chris Whelan, who was 3-for-4 and finished a triple shy of the cycle, said on BTN. 'It's a low-90s fastball, so if he's got it, he's going to use it. That's for sure.
'He did a pretty good job of locating it, and we were fortunate enough that he hung a couple offspeed pitches and we put some really good swings on it, so proud of our guys today.'
The Terrapins rallied with six straight runs, including a three-run shot from Nick Dunn in the third and two-run homer from nine-hole hitter Justin Morris in the fourth. Maryland grabbed a 7-6 lead on Brandon Gum's fourth-inning RBI single.
Robert Neustrom's fifth-inning blast tied the game at 7-7, then Whelan gave Iowa the lead with a solo homer in the sixth. Marty Costes answered with a long ball in the seventh to chase Iowa starter Nick Gallagher and make it 8-8.
The Terps loaded the bases in the eighth, but Josh Martsching got out of it with a strikeout and popout.
Tyler Cropley drew a one-out walk in the ninth, Grant Judkins lined a single to right and Hoeg's sac fly gave Iowa the lead after Maryland turned to Ryan Selmer.
'It's about taking punches and getting back up from them,' Whelan said. 'Our team's been doing a really good job of that since the beginning ... keep getting good at-bats and grinding it out and good things will happen when you play the game right.'
The game was originally scheduled for Wednesday night, but was postponed after rain pushed back the Nebraska-Purdue game. Then, the scheduled 12:30 p.m. first pitch was moved again, to 2:10, after Indiana beat Michigan in a 13-inning elimination game.
After falling to Iowa, Maryland beat Purdue 5-2 to live to see another day. The Terps will play the Nebraska-Iowa loser in an elimination game at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.