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 17-11 victory over St. Thomas

The Hawkeyes snap their two-game skid with a victory over the Tommies.
Ethan McLaughlin
Iowa Kyle Huckstorf makes contact with a pitch during a baseball game between Michigan and Iowa at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City, Iowa. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines 3-2 in extra innings.

The Iowa baseball team returned to its winning ways with a 17-11 victory over St. Thomas on Wednesday. The Hawkeyes moved to 17-13 on the season heading into a crucial series at Ohio State.

Here are three takeaways from the Hawkeyes’ win over the Tommies. 

Offense looked sharp

In this past weekend’s series against Michigan, the Iowa offense averaged just four runs per contest, well off its season average of nine. 

The Hawkeyes bounced back in a major way against St. Thomas, scoring 17 runs on 17 hits. Nine Iowa players recorded a hit on Wednesday, with five batters putting together multiple hits. The Hawkeyes also took advantage of every RBI opportunity, only having four runners left on base. 

Standing out among the Iowa batters was fifth-year outfielder Kyle Huckstorf. Going 4-for-5 on the evening with three RBIs, the righty improved his batting average to .350 on the season, good for fourth best on the team.

The bottom of the batting order is what stood out for Iowa, with the last four Hawkeye batters combining for seven hits and four RBIs. 

“I was really happy with the bottom part of the order that got us going today,” Head coach Rick Heller said. “I was really happy to see those guys spark us a little bit. We weren’t getting a lot of pitches to hit, but we didn’t panic, and eventually got some pitches to hit.”

Anthony Watts steps up

Pitching coach Sean McGrath gave the ball to Zach Voelker heading into the fourth inning with the Hawkeyes leading 6-5. After allowing four hits in a row and giving up two runs, McGrath called in second-year Anthony Watts with runners on first and third and no outs. 

Watts immediately made an impact, forcing St. Thomas catcher Maz Morris to ground into a double play which scored a run. Watts finished off the inning by forcing a weak line drive to short-stop Michael Seegers, ending the inning. 

The righty continued to step up in the following inning by recording three outs and keeping the Hawkeyes in the game. 

Watts has pitched six scoreless innings in his last three outings for the Hawkeyes, allowing just two hits and striking out eight. 

“He has been really good lately,” Heller said. “I know he and Sean have been working on stuff, and I feel like he is in a really good place right now. He’s one of the guys that I trust to bring into situations like that, but also I believe he can go three innings for us. I think he is in a place where he can do that.”

Motivation moving forward

After last weekend’s disappointing series loss to Michigan, Iowa now finds itself with a 5-4 Big Ten record and has dropped to fourth place in the conference. 

The road doesn’t get much easier for the Hawkeyes as conference play ramps up. Iowa’s next three Big Ten opponents — Ohio State, Rutgers, and Nebraska — all find themselves in the top 55 of the RPI. 

For Iowa to have a chance at another NCAA Tournament appearance, they have to start winning series against highly touted opponents. 

“We have talked about finding some toughness and some grit,” Heller said. “I felt like that has been lacking at times throughout the course of the season so far. We talked about using Saturday as a restart. Hopefully, we can use it as a turning point. For whatever reason this year it just seems like there has been focus on results and things you can’t control.”

Up next

The Iowa baseball team travels to Columbus, Ohio, to take on Ohio State in a weekend series. Friday’s game starts at 5:00 p.m. on Big Ten Plus. 

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About the Contributor
Jake Olson, Sports Reporter
Email: [email protected] Jake Olson is a Sports Reporter for The Daily Iowan. In his three years with the paper, he has covered everything from rowing to basketball. He is studying journalism and mass communication with a minor in sports and rec management.