Mark Sprague and Emily Arthur

The long standing tradition of Cyclone baseball came to an end last week at the Big 12 conference tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Iowa State fought heavy emotions throughout the double-elimination tournament coming away with an upset win and two losses.

The Cyclones fell to Nebraska on day one of the tournament, 5-2, before turning around the next day and beating Baylor, 6-5, in dramatic fashion to extend their season.

Iowa State was eliminated by Oklahoma State, 17-4 in their final game to end the tournament and program for Cyclone baseball.

The first game for the Cyclones pitted Iowa State against No. 1 seeded Nebraska in a rematch of the games from the weekend before.

Nebraska got on board first with a run in the bottom of the first inning following three straight walks by ISU pitcher Lincoln Mincks.

The Cyclones answered back in the fourth inning scoring two runs on RBIs by Ryan Wickham and Jason McNertney to take a 2-1 lead.

Iowa State continued to ride the arm of Mincks who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before it was broken up with a single by Nebraska’s No. 9 hitter, Will Bolt. He also retired 13 consecutive Huskers.

Mincks’ outing was the farthest a starting pitcher has gone without allowing a hit in the history of the Big 12.

Nebraska came back to tie the game with one run in the sixth inning and then took the lead for good, putting two runs on the board in the bottom of the seventh and another in the eighth for the final score of 5-2.

Cyclone player Joe Urban said that he thought offensively Nebraska stepped up where Iowa State didn’t.

“We didn’t capitalize at some times at the plate, and that kind of hurt us today,” he said. “They did. That’s the difference between a close game and a win.”

Facing elimination, Iowa State met up with nationally ranked Baylor in what proved to be the emotional highpoint in the tournament.

Baylor came into the game as the No. 4 seed in the tournament, but Iowa State was determined to prove that they belonged.

Iowa State went into the bottom of the ninth inning down by two runs and facing elimination before coming through under pressure scoring three runs in the inning. The last two runs came on the final play of the game as a result of an error by Baylor.

ISU player Rob Conway knocked in the two winning runs and, after the game, said that he was definitely nervous in that situation.

“I was just trying to block out everything,” Conway said. “You could see everyone in the dugout just hoping something happens.”

ISU player Beau Hampton scored the winning run and also had something to talk about after the game.

“All I was thinking about is that I was going to score no matter what,” Hampton said. “This is a great feeling for our team, our coaching staff, our fans. This is what baseball is all about.”

Hampton said he saw the ball hit to to the right side, but he wasn’t sure if it got to the outfield or not.

“I had no clue,” he said. “All I was thinking about was touching third and touching home.”

Hampton said that there was no happier moment for him.

“I’m a senior, I’m done whenever I’m done with my team and it’s just exciting.”

Head baseball coach Lyle Smith couldn’t agree more.

“They played with some heart and captured the imagination of a lot of people in Iowa and across the baseball world,” Smith said. “It’s kind of an inspirational story.”

ISU player Jake Brown led the way offensively for the Cyclones, collecting four of the fourteen hits while T.J. Bohn added two RBIs on two singles and came up big in the ninth inning to pace the offense.

Pitcher Josh Twedt inherited the game with a two run deficient and gained his first win of the season off one inning of shutout relief for the Cyclones.

Coming off the emotional Baylor win, Iowa State surrendered ten runs in the top of the first inning on the way to a 17-4 loss in what may be the last game in the history of Cyclone baseball.

After the game, head coach Lyle Smith, who was recently named Honorary Coach of the Year, had only positive things to say about his players.

“They played with a lot of guts and emotion,” he said. “They played with some of the better teams in the country. You can be extremely proud of Iowa State.”

Conway playing in his last game as a Cyclone drove in two runs on two hits while Urban added a two-run homerun.

Following the game, Smith talked about the end of ISU baseball and how his players were adjusting.

“I shed my tears awhile ago,” he said. “I knew this was going to come. Sometimes young people don’t. They think it’s never going to end.”

Smith said he was sad to see it end but he was expecting it

“The clock was ticking and it was just a matter of time,” Smith said.

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