BLOOMINGTON, IND. –Tyler Cropley hit his second home run of the game leading off the 13th inning, and Iowa added one more run on an error to defeat the Gophers 7-5 on Saturday night and advance to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament.
The fifth-seeded Hawkeyes (37-20), in the title game for the second consecutive year, will play Sunday afternoon against Maryland or Northwestern. Those teams will meet Sunday morning.
Five Gophers relievers held Iowa to one hit over 8⅔ innings before Cropley connected for his third home run of the tournament — and ninth of the season — in the 13th off Jake Stevenson.
Hawkeyes reliever Josh Martsching pitched 5⅔ innings of two-hit relief for the win, and Shane Ritter worked the 13th for his fifth save, ending the longest game in Big Ten tournament history after 4 hours and 57 minutes.
The Gophers’ season is most likely over because their RPI is just the 69th-best in the country going into Saturday’s games, making an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament highly unlikely.
Minnesota (36-21) took a 2-0 lead in the first on Toby Hanson’s sacrifice fly and Jordan Smith’s RBI single. After Cropley’s first homer for Iowa in the second, the Gophers answered the same inning, scoring on Ben Mezzenga’s single and Luke Pettersen’s sacrifice fly to go up 4-1.
The Hawkeyes scored two runs in the third and two in the fourth to take a 5-4 lead. Minnesota tied the score in the sixth on Petersen’s second RBI single. And then the scoring stopped — neither team got a run the next six innings.
Earlier in the day, the Gophers had given Iowa its first loss in the tournament to force a second game, defeating the Hawkeyes 9-3 behind Reggie Meyer’s eight strong innings and Hanson’s four hits. The Gophers scored four runs in the third inning and three more in the fourth.
Hanson had run-scoring singles in each of his first three at-bats. Pettersen doubled twice and scored four times.
Maryland 9, Northwestern 5: The fourth-seeded Terrapins (37-20) scored four runs in the seventh inning and avoid elimination by handing the seventh-seeded Wildcats (26-29) their first loss of the tournament.
Maryland had bases loaded with no outs in the seventh when Josh Levy hit AJ Lee to force in Brandon Gum and break a 5-5 tie. JR Reimer came on and walked in another run.
The Terrapins took a 3-0 lead when Marty Costes homered in the first inning and Will Watson and Kevin Smith homered in the second.