Iowa falls to Missouri State in Springfield Regional
SPRINGFIELD, MO -- It's a whole new NCAA Tournament now for the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Hopes for a clean sweep through the Springfield Regional evaporated for the Hawkeyes on a cool, misty Saturday night.
Now they will have to win three elimination games to advance to the Super Regional, after enduring problems with control and wasted opportunities in a 5-3 loss to host and No. 8 national seed Missouri State before a raucous crowd of 5,112 at Hammons Field.
"We have to come back with a new mindset," second baseman Jake Mangler said. "We're playing for our lives now."
Iowa (40-17) will take on Oregon (38-24) in Sunday's 2 p.m. elimination game, with the winner playing Missouri State at 7 p.m. Sunday. The Iowa-Oregon winner will need to beat the Bears twice to advance to the best-of-three Super Regional and move one step closer to the College World Series.
The Hawkeyes will turn to Calvin Mathews (5-3) for the start against Oregon.
Iowa starter Blake Hickman lasted only 3 2/3 innings on Saturday night, suffering through an uncharacteristic wild streak. He walked five and gave up three hits.
"I was just in there trying to battle," Hickman said, "and things got away from me."
Ryan Erickson (4-1) came on in relief in the fourth and escaped a two-on, two-out jam to keep the game tied at 2.
Missouri State struck again for three fifth-inning runs, with Justin Paulsen, Spencer Johnson and Jake Burger delivering one-out RBI hits to chase Erickson and give the Bears the lead for good.
And that's about all that Missouri State starter Matt Hall (11-2) needed. He kept the Hawkeyes from capitalizing after putting the leadoff man on base in three of the first four innings and he finished with 11 strikeouts in an eight-inning, 132-pitch effort.
The left-hander came in as the Division I leader in strikeouts with 152, and he recorded strikeouts to end the first, second, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Bryan Young worked the final inning for his 15th save, giving up an RBI double to Nick Day before ending the game with a strikeout of Eric Toole.
Iowa took a short-lived 2-0 lead with a pair of second-inning runs, one on an RBI infield single from Daniel Aaron Moriel and another on a throwing error.
"It started off as a pretty good ballgame for us," Iowa coach Rick Heller said. "We were able to put some pressure on Missouri State and force them into some defensive mistakes that we were able to take advantage of.
"Blake had good stuff when he started, and then unfortunately it just went away. We ended up walking a lot of guys in the middle innings, and it cost us."
The Hawkeyes wasted a leadoff single in the first when they were caught stealing, saw a double play end a two-on, one-out threat in the third and couldn't muster another serious threat until the ninth.
Missouri State (47-10) extended its winning streak to 18 – the longest current run in the nation – and avenged a 6-5 loss to Iowa on Feb. 21.