Iowa entered Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal with a game up on Michigan. If needed, the Hawkeyes would have two chances to defeat the Wolverines and advance to Sunday’s championship. Ty Langenberg and the rest of the team were set on getting it done in the game one. Michigan didn’t go down without a fight, but it was three runs scored off of their ace that did them in late in the game.
The win was the 42nd of the season and now the Hawkeyes will have a shot at grabbing the Big Ten automatic NCAA Tournament bid tomorrow. The 5-0 victory marked the sixth shutout of the season for the Hawkeyes.
The search for a game MVP started and ended with Ty Langenberg. He set the tone with a pair of strikeouts and a zero in the first inning, but that was just the beginning. Langenberg shut down a Michigan offense that racked up 13 runs and 18 hits against Indiana in an elimination game on Friday.
From the second to the fifth inning, Langenberg retired 15 of 17 batters he faced, including six strikeouts. His slider has been on and off this season, but today, when it mattered most, it was as good as it has been all season. With his pitch count climbing just over the 100 mark in the seventh inning, Michigan began to threaten.
A walk to Jack Van Remortel gave the Wolverines two on base, with just one out in the inning. At 105 pitches, it was pitching coach Sean McGrath that came out of the dugout rather than Rick Heller. After a short chat, Langenberg stepped on the mound and got a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
The final line for Langenberg was 7.0 innings, no runs, two hits, nine strikeouts and just two walks. He threw 67 of his 107 (62.6%) pitches for strikes, which was his second highest strike percentage against a Big Ten opponent this season.
At the plate, it was slow going early for the Iowa offense. A Raider Tello hit by pitch with the bases loaded in the third inning got the Hawkeyes on the board, but it was just 1-0 through five innings.
Michigan pitchers Brandon Mann and Eamon Horwedel had combined for five strikeouts and just one hit to that point. Six free bases gave Iowa some traffic, but they weren’t able to put up a big number.
Horwedel began the sixth inning on the mound and retired the first two Iowa batters. Michael Seegers broke up the quick inning with a single and advanced to second on an errant pickoff attempt. Michigan head coach Tracy Smith then made the move to ace Connor O’Halloran out of the bullpen.
Kyle Huckstorf greeted him with a double over the head of Jonathan Kim in center. Seegers came around to score to make it 2-0 Hawkeyes.
Brennen Dorighi came to the plate to face O’Halloran with two runners on and one out in the seventh inning. He slapped a 2-1 pitch into left field for an RBI single. The Wolverines then brought the infield in with runners on the corners, but Raider Tello was able to line an RBI single through the right side to extend the lead to 4-0. Sam Hojnar added a sacrifice fly to make it 5-0 and that was more than enough.
Will Christophersen worked a scoreless inning in the eighth, while Luke Llewellyn was able to get the final three outs in the ninth inning to secure the Hawkeyes spot in the championship game.
With the win, Iowa moves to 42-13 on the season and advance on to Sunday’s championship game. The Hawkeyes will face the winner of the Maryland/Nebraska semifinal. The Terrapins need just one win to advance to face the Hawkeyes, while the Huskers need to win two games. First pitch on Sunday is set for 2:00pm on the Big Ten Network.