The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

No. 18 Iowa baseball notebook | Bullpen problems doom Hawkeyes in three-straight losses

The Hawkeyes had leads of 3-1, 7-0, and 5-0 but ultimately finished winless in Jacksonville.
Averi Coffee
Iowa infielder Raider Tello hits the ball during a baseball game between Iowa and Ohio State at Duane Banks Baseball Stadium on Friday, May 5, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes, 16-9.

Following a dominating victory over Loras, the Iowa baseball team traveled to Jacksonville, Florida, for the Jacksonville College Baseball Classic — a four-team event featuring four of the nation’s top programs. The Hawkeyes faced off against Auburn, No. 14 Virginia, and Wichita State in the weekend series.  

Though the Hawks got solid run support from their bats and jumped out to a lead in each contest, Iowa’s bullpen couldn’t hold down its end of the bargain, blowing sizable leads in three-straight games. The Hawkeyes had leads of 3-1, 7-0, and 5-0 in each game but ultimately came up short in all three contests. 

It would have been a golden opportunity for Iowa to gain quality wins for its NCAA Tournament resume, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Hawkeyes now sit at 3-4 overall and have lost four of their last five games. 


Inclement weather and the previous game going into extra innings delayed Iowa’s opening contest against Auburn by over an hour. But when the two teams finally took the field, the Tigers defeated the Hawkeyes, 7-5. 

Iowa right-hander Brody Brecht got the start on the bump for the Hawkeyes, and he pitched six effective innings with one earned run and 11 strikeouts. 

The Hawkeye offense did its job early, with Blake Guerin scoring on a bases-loaded walk in the first, and Michael Seegers layed down a sacrifice bunt in the second to give Iowa a 2-0 lead. The Hawks tacked on another run in the third, courtesy of an RBI single from Kyle Huckstorf. 

After Brecht exited the game with a 3-2 lead, it was up to the Hawkeye bullpen to preserve the lead, something that it struggled to do last season. Auburn immediately took advantage of Brecht’s absence and blasted two home runs in the seventh to take the lead for good. 

“Those two runs proved pretty big,” head coach Rick Heller told Hawkeye Sports. 

Iowa attempted a late rally in the ninth with a Sam Petersen two-run shot, but the damage was already done. Jack Whitlock was the losing pitcher for the Hawkeyes with three runs allowed in only two-thirds of an inning.


The following night, Iowa returned to the diamond to take on the No. 14 Virginia Cavaliers. In what was almost a carbon copy of the Auburn game, the Hawkeyes raced out to a big lead — only to collapse and lose, 12-9. 

Iowa put up six runs in the first inning, aided by a two-run triple from Raider Tello and a three-run opposite-field blast from Huckstorf. 

Virginia responded with two runs in the third to cut the deficit to four, but the Hawkeyes responded with an RBI double from Ben Wilmes to extend the lead to 7-2. 

But the Cavaliers didn’t go quietly. 

Once again, the Iowa pitching staff struggled with its control, and Virginia took advantage with two doubles and a home run in the fourth inning to tie the game at seven. 

From there, the game transitioned into a back-and-forth affair. Davis Cop gave the Hawks the lead right back in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI single. 

The Cavaliers went cold at the plate over the next three innings, but Iowa couldn’t increase its lead. Virginia broke through in the seventh with a solo shot and an RBI single in the eighth to take its first lead of the night. 

The Hawkeyes tied the game in the bottom half of the eighth on a throwing error by catcher Jacob Ference, but Virginia decided it was time to end the see-saw game. 

The Cavaliers put up a three-spot in the ninth inning, leaving Iowa empty-handed for the second straight night. Brant Hogue was tacked with the loss for the Hawkeyes.

“The way that lead evaporated was painful,” Heller said. “I’m proud of how our guys fought. We were locked in and ready to play tonight. We just gave them too many free bases, and Virginia made us pay.”

Wichita State 

Iowa had one final chance to grab a win in Jacksonville against the Wichita State Shockers, but it turned out to be deja vu yet again for the Hawkeyes.

Similar to the previous two contests, Iowa raced out to a quick 5-0 lead, only to blow it and lose by a score of 12-6. 

Andy Nelson got the Hawkeyes on the board with a two-run single to center field, and Wilmes and Petersen responded with additional RBI singles to make it 4-0 Iowa after two innings of play. 

After a lull in scoring, Huckstorf brought Tello in on a sacrifice fly in the fifth to give the Black and Gold a five-run advantage. 

Cade Obermueller had a good bounce-back start on the mound for Iowa, totaling five scoreless innings with six strikeouts.

But, after Obermueller left the game, the Shockers gave the Hawkeye bullpen more nightmares. 

Wichita State got on the scoreboard in the sixth with a three-run home run to slice the deficit to two. From there, the Shockers’ bats came to life, and they tacked on five more in the seventh to take an 8-5 lead. 

Stunned by another collapse, the Iowa offense shut down, and the Hawkeyes left North Florida without a single win. 

Up next 

Iowa returns home to Duane Banks Field on Feb. 27 for a game against the Northern Illinois Huskies, who are 2-6 on the season. First pitch is set for 4:05 CT.

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About the Contributor
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.