A conference title. A trip to the regional tournament. A pure rivalry.
All of that describes what this weekend means to the Iowa State club baseball team as they face off against the Iowa Hawkeyes in a four-game series over the weekend.
After dropping two of its three games against Northern Iowa, this weekend’s set becomes all the more important for Iowa State.
“There’s no excuse for dropping two of three against any team that we face, regardless if the series is split,” said vice president Cole Henry. “We could play three games on three separate days and I feel like we have the talent to take three games from UNI.”
Although, this weekend could make or break a trip to the national tournament implications for the Cyclones.
“This is huge series,” said president Bobby Thompson. “This will decide the conference. If we sweep them we’re in good shape for the conference.”
If Iowa State does well enough over the next two weeks, they could land a conference championship and a trip to the Midwest Regional Tournament: which gives the winner a ticket to the World Series.
With two series to go, the Cyclones still control their own destiny.
The situation that would land the team the conference championship includes a three-game sweep of the Hawkeyes and winning two out of three on the road the next weekend against South Dakota.
If Iowa State doesn’t win the conference, they will have to rely on an at-large bid to get into the conference tournament.
That’s where the fourth game of the series comes in. Iowa State and the rest of their league has built in a fourth game for each three-game series to count as a non-conference game to help more players get playing time. The game still matters, just not quite as much in the grand scheme of things.
Although, if Iowa State fails to win all three conference games, that’s where things could get a little dicey.
In their last series, the Cyclones weren’t able to get their bats going as well as they wanted, only tallying four runs total in their two losses.
That’s where they turn to Henry, who is currently batting .535 for the season.
“On the field, Cole is doing great, being a huge leader, and getting on base a lot,” Thompson said.
Henry said that moving forward, the team is going to try to play relaxed baseball, and said he is confident about Iowa State’s hopes this weekend.
With it being a series against the in-state rival Hawkeyes, the team expects a lot of fans at Cap Timm Field this weekend.
“It’s a lot of fun, this weekend we are expecting a lot of fans,” Thompson said. “It’s cool to put in perspective what we have done over the last few years.”