It’s a winners’ bracket date for the Iowa Hawkeyes Saturday night versus the host and No. 14 seed Indiana State Sycamores from Bob Warn Field in Terre Haute, Indiana.
There are plenty of storylines in this one, but the big one coming in is the return of Iowa head baseball coach Rick Heller to where he coached before.
Of course, these two teams opened the season in the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida on Feb. 17.
Kyle Huckstorf played the role of hero that day, belting a walk-off grand slam to hand the Hawkeyes a 6-2 win over Indiana State. Heller knew then Iowa had beaten a very good team.
“Couldn’t ask for more it was a great baseball game between two really good teams. Two really good arms. Anytime you play in a situation like that where every pitch matters, whether its game one or game fifty, and you see your guys hang in there and compete and get out of some tough jams it makes you proud. Really proud of our guys,” Heller said after the season-opening win.
Junior right-hander Ty Langenberg started versus ISU to open the season, throwing five innings and allowing two earned runs. Then, redshirt senior Jared Simpson and redshirt junior Will Christophersen combined for six shutout innings to secure the win.
Little did any of us know a rematch would be in store almost four months later with much higher stakes. The winner moves oh-so-close to the Super Regionals, while the loser would have to take the long way forward with three more wins to collect in order to advance to the next round.
Here’s where and how Hawkeye fans can tune into the big game tonight. Plus, several notes on the matchup.
How to watch
Date: Saturday, June 3
Time: 5 p.m. CT
TV Channel: ESPN+
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch here)
Indiana State: Redshirt senior RHP Connor Fenlong (9-2 record, 3.24 ERA, 100 innings pitched, 62 strikeouts, 27 walks)
It's a homecoming for Hellerball
Like he’s done with the Hawkeye baseball program, Rick Heller made history in his previous head coaching stop at Indiana State.
Heller led Indiana State from the 2010-13 seasons, compiling a 131-91 overall mark. In his first season at the helm, Indiana State finished 35-19 and Heller registered the most wins for any first-year coach in program history.
Then, in 2012, Heller helped the Sycamores capture their first outright Missouri Valley Conference championship in school history. The Sycamores also made their first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since the 1995 season. Indiana State’s 41-19 record meant ISU tracked down the most single-season wins for the program dating back to the 1991 season.
The all-time series history, a grand hero
All-time series record: Iowa leads, 2-1
The Hawkeyes opened this season with a walk-off, extra-innings grand slam from Kyle Huckstorf to down the Sycamores in the Snowbird Baseball Classic from Port Charlotte, Florida.
That tilted the all-time series record against Indiana State into the Hawkeyes’ favor, 2-1. Iowa previously topped Indiana State, 6-3, in 1981 before losing to the Sycamores, 11-3, in 2016.
Against North Carolina
Here’s Iowa’s key box score notes from the Hawkeyes’ thrilling 5-4 win over North Carolina:
Starting sophomore RHP Marcus Morgan: WIN, 5 innings pitched on 95 pitches, 2 hits, 5 strikeouts, 4 walks, 1 earned run
Redshirt sophomore relief RHP Jack Whitlock: 3 innings pitched on 42 pitches, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 earned runs
Redshirt junior relief RHP Will Cristophersen: 1/3 innings pitched on 26 pitches, 2 hits, 2 walks, 3 earned runs
Redshirt junior relief RHP Luke Llewellyn: SAVE, 2/3 innings pitched on 13 pitches, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts, 0 walks, 0 earned runs
Redshirt junior 2B Sam Hojnar: 1-for-4, 2-RBI double
Sophomore DH Ben Wilmes: 1-for-5, RBI single
Redshirt junior RF Brayden Frazier: 2-for-4, RBI single, run scored
Junior C Cade Moss: 1-for-3, RBI sac bunt
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