Iowa baseball starts the season hot, tears through nonconference play

The Hawkeyes have a 20-6 record through the first weekend of Big Ten play behind an impressive offense that averages 8.78 runs per game.


Matt Sindt

Iowa infielder Michael Seegers jumps over West Michigan catcher Greg Budig to score during a baseball game between Iowa and West Michigan at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on Friday, March 24, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 9-3.

Keaton Speicher, Sports Reporter

With an overall record of 20-6, the Iowa baseball team is off to one of the best starts in program history. And the high-powered Iowa offense is a key reason for the hot start.

Iowa has scored 10 runs or more in 11 of its 26 games this season and over 20 runs in two.

The Hawkeyes have six players in their starting lineup batting over .300. Senior Brennen Dorighi leads the team with a .368 average, as well as 30 RBIs.

Sophomore Keaton Anthony leads the Hawkeyes with six home runs so far this season and hits .330. Anthony also hit a grand slam against Maryland on March 31 — the fifth this season for the Hawkeyes. Sophomore Sam Petersen and Kyle Huckstorf are right behind Anthony, with five home runs each.

But the Iowa offense isn’t just carried by a few sluggers. Head coach Rick Heller said the consistency of the lineup is helping the Hawkeyes.

“We haven’t just had to rely on 3-4 hitters,” Heller said after a win against Maryland on April 2. “Like today, our bottom three hitters really picked us up, they had five or six hits.”

Iowa’s consistent offensive power has allowed the team more breathing room in a lot of early games this season. So, the Hawkeyes have experimented with pitching lineups up to the start of Big Ten play.

Iowa excels in its offensive consistency, but it’s been inconsistent on the pitching side of the game.

Sophomore Brody Brecht and his 104 mph fastball often give the Hawkeyes a great start to a game on Fridays, but the Hawkeyes have lost major leads because of bullpen struggles.

In Iowa’s series against Maryland, the Hawkeyes gave up a five-run first-inning lead in the first game and eventually lost, 10-9. While Brecht gave up three runs in his five-inning start, reliever Jared Simpson allowed five runs in just 2 1/3 innings.

“The pitching has been up and down, inconsistent.” Heller said. “It was something we hoped to have cleaned up before the conference started. But again, even in those games where we let up a few runs or gave some free bases, someone stepped up and closed it out.”

Brecht is the only starter with an ERA under three so far this season. While Brecht boasts a 2.67 ERA, Saturday starter Zach Voelker has a 4.45 ERA, and Sunday starter Ty Langenberg sits at 5.52.

In the bullpen, Luke Llewellyn leads the Hawkeyes with a 1.93 ERA in 11 appearances.

Heller said the Hawkeyes’ motto is to keep improving. Even when the Hawkeyes were winning games in the nonconference season, they still knew they had a long way to go.

Iowa lost two of three games to Maryland at Duane Banks Field to start Big Ten play. But the Hawkeyes know they can clean up on the mound and get to the top of the Big Ten standings.

“We have to keep pushing and pushing to get better each week,” Heller said. “That’s been our motto. It kind of just fell in place for us.”

Iowa will head to Bradley in Peoria, Illinois, on Wednesday for a midweek nonconference game. Then, the Hawkeyes will head to Bloomington, Indiana, to take on the Hoosiers in a three-game weekend series.