After an incredible run to the finals of the Big Ten Tournament, Northwestern baseball’s magic finally ran out in a blowout loss to fifth-seeded Iowa, 13-4.
After some thrilling victories, including one earlier in the day against Maryland, NU simply didn’t have enough to compete with Iowa’s offense. The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first off pitcher Matt Gannon, who couldn’t complete a full inning. The Wildcat pitching staff was definitely shorthanded after playing so many games in quick succession, and they missed the dominance of Cooper Wetherbee, the team’s top starter who was unavailable after pitching 6.2 innings earlier in the day.
Gannon struggled with control out of the gate – two walks and a single loaded the bases, and he balked in Iowa’s first run of the game. A sac fly scored another, and Gannon got the quick hook, but replacement Tyler Lass allowed three more to score.
On the flipside, Northwestern’s offense fell flat against Iowa’s Drake Robison. They scored one in the third, but that was all they could muster until the final frame. In the meantime, Iowa kept making things worse: They scored one more in the fifth, then really put the game out of reach in the seventh behind a Jake Adams two-run homer and two more runs on an error by Matt Hopfner at first. In the eighth, Adams (who is definitely on steroids) hit another home run, his 27th of the year in 58 games – which would translate to about 75 over a 162-game season, what they play in the pros. Based on my calculations, that’s a ton of home runs.
A couple eighth-inning runs later, it was 13-1 Iowa. The ‘Cats woke up anyone who had fallen asleep in the ninth by adding three runs behind RBI hits from Ben Dickey and Charlie Maxwell, but three was far from enough, and Iowa won the title game 13-4.
Despite the loss, the tournament has to be a net positive for the ‘Cats. They barely snuck in as the seventh seed, but they slugged their way to the finals, beating two NCAA Tournament teams (Michigan and Maryland) in the process. For a team that started 5-17, reaching the conference finals is an incredible achievement.
Four ‘Cats were named to the all-tournament team: third baseman Connor Lind, outfielder Joe Hoscheit and pitchers Cooper Wetherbee and Sam Lawrence.
Even though some star seniors like Hoscheit and Wetherbee are leaving, the Wildcats’ surprise performance this May proves that good things are ahead for the ‘Cats.