Hawkeyes coach Rick Heller discusses the play that sidelined Jimmy Frankos. Chad Leistikow/HawkCentral.com
MINNEAPOLIS – Iowa suffered a potentially damaging blow Thursday night, perhaps worse than the 8-5 loss to Michigan at the Big Ten Tournament.
Starting catcher Jimmy Frankos left the game with what coach Rick Heller feared was a concussion following a home-plate collision.
If that's the diagnosis, Frankos could not only miss the rest of the Big Ten Tournament but possibly the NCAA regional tournament, which begins May 29. Iowa (39-15) is expected to make the 64-team field for just the fourth time in school history.
"We're hoping that's not the case," Heller said, "but we'll have to wait and see how bad it is."
The play that sidelined Frankos brought Heller to home plate to argue with umpire Mike Martin. In the top of the fifth inning, Michigan's Cody Bruder barreled into Frankos, who was waiting to catch left-fielder Kris Goodman's throw, and knocked over the junior.
Heller's contention with Martin was simple.
"Mine was, he didn't follow the rules. The rules say you can't run over the catcher no matter what, period," Heller said. "I'd have to see it on film to give you a better judgment."
Michigan coach Erik Bakich thought that Goodman's throw home might have caused Frankos to drift into Bruder.
"It looked like to me he was getting ready to slide, but the throw just kind of shifted Frankos over," Bakich said. "It was one of those unavoidable collisions. Cody would never try to take the catcher out. It was just one of those baseball plays."
Frankos hits No. 7 in the Hawkeyes' regular order vs. right-handers, offering one of only two left-handed bats. Though he was hitting just .207, Frankos started 25 games and is Iowa's top defensive catcher.
Daniel Aaron Moriel replaced Frankos and delivered an RBI single in the ninth inning. He is hitting .291 in 55 at-bats this season.