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

Iowa baseball notebook | Hawkeyes look to continue winning ways, play host to Michigan

After a rough patch to begin the season, the Hawkeyes have won eight out of their last 10 contests and look to carry the momentum into a home series against a mediocre Wolverines team this weekend.
Matt Sindt
Iowa right-handed pitcher Marcus Morgan throws the ball during a baseball game between Iowa and Ohio State at Duane Banks Baseball Stadium on Saturday, May 6, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Buckeyes, 15-3.

Following a series victory at home over the Minnesota Golden Gophers last weekend, the Iowa baseball team returns to the friendly confines of Duane Banks Field for a three-game set against the Michigan Wolverines from April 5-7. 

The Hawkeyes enter the series at 15-11 overall and 4-2 in conference play with victories in eight of their last 10 contests. 

Iowa had a midweek game scheduled against Bradley on April 2, but the contest was canceled the day before due to incoming inclement weather in the area. Neither school has announced if the game will be made up at a later date. 

Michigan at a glance 

The Wolverines have struggled to a 12-17 record to start the season, but they have gained some traction against conference foes and match Iowa’s Big Ten record at 4-2. Two of those conference victories came against regional power Maryland while scoring nine or more runs in each contest. 

Following the dominating performance against the Terrapins, Michigan returned home and throttled in-state rival Eastern Michigan, 18-6, in seven innings on April 2. During their current three-game winning streak, the Wolverines have scored a total of 39 runs while allowing only 11 in the process.  

Though a 12-17 record is certainly disappointing for this squad, it has played a brutal schedule thus far — with games against No. 7 Oregon State, No. 2 Arkansas, and a three-game series at No. 18 Coastal Carolina, all of which resulted in defeats. 

Not only that but Michigan also had tricky road matchups against future conference rivals USC and UCLA, although it was able to win both games. This team has shown glimpses of potential.

Head coach Tracy Smith is in his second season with the Wolverines after previous head coaching stops at Miami of Ohio, Indiana, and Arizona State.

Last season, Smith’s Michigan team finished 28-28 overall with a 13-11 Big Ten mark. During his 26-year coaching career, his career record is 833-640-1 — .565 — with nine NCAA Tournament berths and one College World Series appearance with Indiana. 

What to expect in pitching  

The Hawkeyes are expected to stick with their main starting rotation of Brody Brecht, Marcus Morgan, and Cade Obermueller this weekend.

In each weekend series thus far, Brecht has opened the series on Friday with Morgan and Obermueller pitching on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Through the season’s first 26 games, the Iowa pitching staff has a combined ERA of 6.14. 

Michigan poses a unique variety of starting pitchers that could stifle the Hawkeye offense. Second-year Mitch Voit has been one of its most reliable and consistent pitchers as of late, striking out six batters to clinch the series win over Maryland. Voit is also dangerous at the plate and hit the go-ahead home run in that same game. 

Fifth-year Jacob Denner returned from the bullpen to start the second game against the Terrapins and threw nearly eight brilliant innings while only allowing one run and three hits. Denner has had some consistency issues this year but could be a valuable piece in the Wolverine rotation if he can consistently have outings like that.

Michigan’s pitching staff has a total ERA of 7.01 on the young season. 

What to expect on the offense 

Iowa presents one of the toughest batting lineups in the Big Ten with each man in the order capable of doing major damage at the dish. 

Fourth-year Andy Nelson has molded himself into one of the top threats in this lineup. Nelson is currently slugging a team high .408 average while clubbing five home runs and 20 RBIs. He joins fellow seniors Davis Cop, Kyle Huckstorf, and third-year Sam Peterson as the only Hawkeyes to hit at least five long balls on the year. 

Cop transferred to Iowa after spending two seasons at Utah and has provided an immediate impact both offensively and defensively. Along with his five home runs, Cop has chipped in 36 RBIs while maintaining a .344 average. Cop also filled in admirably for an injured Cade Moss at catcher for the first few weeks of the season. 

The Wolverines average .259 at the plate as a team with Voit leading the team with a .336 batting average and 24 RBIs. Fifth-year Stephen Hrustich has blasted nine homers on the year to lead the squad.

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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.