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

Three takeaways from Iowa baseball’s series loss to Ole Miss

Bullpen struggles again doomed the Hawkeyes, who now sit at 5-6 overall this season.
Isabella Tisdale
Iowa’s Ben Wilmes looks to the crowd during a baseball game between No. 18 Iowa and Loras College at Duane Banks Field on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. The Hawkeyes defeated the Duhawks, 20-6.

The Iowa baseball team went 1-2 over the weekend in a three-game series against the Ole Miss Rebels. The Hawkeyes won the opening game but couldn’t build off of it and left Oxford with a disappointing 5-6 overall record. 

Here are three takeaways from the weekend series.

Bullpen continues to struggle 

One of the main concerns for Iowa entering the season was its bullpen, which blew several leads in key moments last year. Though the coaching staff was optimistic about this group, they have struggled mightily in just about every game this year.

In the series opener, the Hawkeyes led 7-2 entering the eighth inning. The Hawks walked seven batters in the frame and allowed Ole Miss to tie the game. Iowa scored six in the ninth to win the contest, but using multiple arms comes at a costly price in a three-game series. 

The next day, Iowa jumped out to an early 5-2 lead, only to see its edge evaporate by the sixth inning, falling, 12-5. It didn’t get any better in game three, as the Hawkeyes lost, 8-3. 

The Iowa pen gave up 20 walks throughout the series, and with two additional blown leads, it was a disappointing weekend for this unit. 

If the Iowa bullpen continues its inconsistent play, then any dreams of a conference or national championship could go to waste. There’s still plenty of baseball ahead, but pitching coach Sean McGrath has his work cut out for him to turn this group around. 

Brecht keeps dealing 

While the season hasn’t gone as expected for Iowa, the one bright spot on this team has been the strong performance of starting pitcher Brody Brecht. The third-year flamethrower has garnered much buzz from MLB scouts with his 100 mph fastball, but he has turned it up a notch this year after posting a 3.74 ERA a season ago. 

Brecht struggled with his command at times last year, but he has put together two straight successful outings and allowed only one earned run in Friday’s series opener. Brecht currently has a 1.76 ERA, and if he continues to avoid walks, then he will be a nightmare for opposing hitters. 

“Brody is in a completely different place than he was last year,” head coach Rick Heller said at the team’s preseason media availability. “He’s a guy that’s extremely driven, and he’s improved so much this year.”

Iowa could be in trouble 

After losing the series in Oxford, the Hawkeyes now sit at a measly 5-6 on the young campaign. The Hawkeyes were the preseason favorite in the Big Ten, but they have failed to meet expectations against tough competition. 

Last weekend, the Hawkeyes had three golden opportunities against Auburn, Virginia, and Wichita State but came up empty-handed. This weekend, Iowa had a chance to gain some ground against another SEC foe in Ole Miss but was left unsatisfied. 

The Hawkeyes have the talent to compete with anyone in the country, but the weakness of the Big Ten compared to other conferences makes it critical to gain quality wins in the non-conference schedule for their NCAA Tournament resume.  

Iowa’s last big game before conference play is a midweek showdown on March 12 against the Georgia Bulldogs, who are 9-1 on the season. It’s not a must-win game for the Hawkeyes but one that would boost a postseason resume. 

There’s still plenty of baseball left, but Iowa needs to find its identity quickly if it wants to regain respect from the rest of the country. 

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About the Contributors
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.
Isabella Tisdale
Isabella Tisdale, Photojournalist
Isabella Tisdale is a photojournalist for The Daily Iowan and is a senior at West High school. In her free time, she stage manages for the theater program at West High. She plans to double major in political science and journalism.