How .077 hitter became unheralded Hawkeye hero in ninth inning

Chad Leistikow

MINNEAPOLIS – Usually when there's a storybook ending, the thing that happened before the big thing that happened can be easily forgotten.

It's not often that a guy with a .150 batting average gets called upon to pinch-hit, but that's exactly what happened with Iowa's Eric Schenck-Joblinske on Wednesday with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning at the Big Ten Tournament.

"He's had kind of a rough year," Iowa coach Rick Heller said of the left-handed junior from Dike, "but he's got crazy power to the pull side."

Schenck-Joblinske, who was hitting an even more paltry .077 in Big Ten play, went to the plate at Target Field with one thing in mind: Hit a game-tying homer against Ohio State closer Trace Dempsey. Iowa trailed, 2-1, with two outs in the first-round game.

But, instead of swinging for the fences, Schenck-Joblinske showed patience — even when Dempsey dealt two strikes.

"I was looking for a ball I could actually drive," he said. "(Dempsey) painted two on the black, outside corner, that I didn't think I could get my hands out to, to drive it. I was content with my at-bat."

He worked the count to 3-2. With one strike separating Iowa from the loser's bracket, Schenck-Joblinske drew Ball 4.

That brought up third baseman Nick Day, who turned on an inside slider and sent the ball over the left-field fence.

And there was Schenck-Joblinske, instead of ending the game in shame with a called strike three, entering a mass celebration at home plate.

With patience and a keen eye, Schenck-Joblinske gave Day a chance to be the hero.

"Aw, man. That was something else," he said. "I knew right when he hit it it was gone, but I was still hustling through just in case.

"Him being a senior and having the back troubles his senior season … to me, I think it's incredible."