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Herky, the Iowa mascot, has some more cheering to do on the baseball diamond.

Iowa’s 5 biggest moments in its Big Ten Tournament baseball run, A.J. Epenesa wins state discus title, and more

The best way to start your day is right here at Landof10.com as we prepare you for everything you need to know about Iowa sports. We’ll share our Iowa Breakfast Club here with you at 7 a.m. (ET) Monday through Friday.

So let’s get to it. Here is the Iowa Breakfast Club for Monday, May 29.


Reliving Iowa’s run to a Big Ten title

Drama seemed like a necessity for Iowa baseball to feel comfortable in the Big Ten Tournament. NHL overtime hockey games were less stressful than most Hawkeyes contests.

It fit the Hawkeyes, though, as they claimed the tourney title, and an NCAA Tournament automatic berth, on Sunday.

It’s a week that will live on in Iowa lore and deserves a recap. Here are the 5 biggest moments from the championship run. And, yes, most required a defibrillator in real time.

1. Josh Martsching works out of bases-loaded jam against Maryland

The Iowa-Maryland tourney opener was a test of wills. The teams traded the lead and it looked like Maryland would grab it again in the eighth inning.

Martsching, who entered with runners on first and second and 1 out with the game tied at 8-8, walked Brandon Gum to load the bases. He stranded all the runners by striking out Marty Coates and getting Nick Dunn to fly out to help preserve the tie in the ultimate 9-8 victory.

It was a memorable moment on the mound. It wouldn’t be the last in the tournament — for Martsching or the Hawkeyes.

2. Ryan Erickson throws a gem

Nebraska had no problem getting base runners on against Ryan Erickson on Friday. Getting them across the plate was another matter.

Nebraska racked up 10 hits and coaxed 2 walks off Erickson, but none of the runners scored. Working out of jams became routine for Erickson, who stranded 8 runners and left the game with 2 more on base. He threw 7 2/3 innings, striking out 6. He gave Iowa a much-needed strong start against the top-seeded Cornhuskers.

3. Zach Daniels and Martsching follow Erickson’s lead

Erickson’s outing seemed like smooth sailing compared to what Zach Daniels and Martsching dealt with — each worked out of a bases-loaded jam. Daniels did it in the eighth, a lot like Martsching the night before. He inherited 2 runners, walked his first batter, then got the out he needed, in this case a fly-out.

After Daniels gave up back-to-back 2-out singles to load the bases in the ninth, Martsching entered the game and for the second straight day ended the game with bases loaded. This time, he struck out Luis Alvarado to close out the 2-0 win.

4. Tyler Cropley’s extra-inning bomb

Iowa and Minnesota were in the midst of an instant classic on Saturday, sitting tied at 5-5 in the 13th inning. Tyler Cropley ensured the ending lived up to everything that came before it, hitting a solo home run to give the Hawkeyes their first lead since the sixth inning. Cropley’s heroics never happen if Martsching doesn’t throw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in relief.

Iowa would add another run in the 13th and claim a 7-5 victory and secure its place in the championship game.

5. Jake Adams leaves the park as Iowa leaves with the championship

Jake Adams struggled to start the tournament, getting 1 hit in his first 13 at-bats. He had no such problem making contact on Sunday, however. He hit 2 home runs and recorded 4 RBI to lead Iowa to a 14-3 win against Northwestern in the championship game.

Adams led the way as the Hawkeyes’ offense ensured the championship would be a cakewalk. Iowa belted 14 hits and now will find out where it’s headed during the NCAA Tournament selection show, which airs on ESPN2 at noon ET on Monday. The NCAA announced the 16 regional host sites on Sunday night.


All-Tournament Honors

Chris Whelan sparked the Iowa offense early in the Big Ten Tournament, hitting a home run in each of the first two games against Maryland and Nebraska. He finished 6 for 18 with those 2 home runs, 4 runs and 3 RBI, good enough to earn him Big Ten Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors.

“I wasn’t trying to do too much,” said Whelan on the Big Ten Network. “I knew if I got on base, stuck to my plan, the guys behind me would do their job.”

Three other Hawkeyes joined Whelan on the all-tournament team:

  • C Tyler Cropley
  • P Ryan Erickson
  • P Josh Martsching

Let’s talk about Martsching for a second. He threw 7 2/3 scoreless innings, scattering 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 4. He picked up 2 wins and 1 save. Each time he pitched was in a high-leverage situation (Maryland and Nebraska) or with the game on the line (Minnesota in extra innings).

Whelan was instrumental in Iowa winning the title, but where the Breakfast Club sits Martsching was the MVP.


Epenesa takes home state title

Incoming Iowa freshman DE A.J. Epenesa won the Class 3A state discus title in Illinois on Saturday. Epenesa threw 197 feet, 11 inches to take first place.

Epenesa also took 14th in the shot put with a toss of 53-0 ¼.

He wasn’t the only future Iowa football player at the meet. DB Camron Harrell finished fourth in the long jump (23-0 ¼), fifth in the 100 (10.86 seconds) and ninth in the 200 (35.35).


Lots of links

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