Series Preview: Iowa Hawkeyes

Maryland baseball travels to Iowa City this weekend to begin Big Ten play against the #25 Iowa Hawkeyes. The Terps (15-9) enter conference play hot, having won 11 of their last 13 games.

Maryland is coming off a 10-7 victory over Georgetown on Tuesday. After a back-and-forth affair through the first four innings, Nick Lorusso’s three-run homer in the fifth was the difference, giving the Terps a lead they would not relinquish. 

Last weekend, the Terps took two out of three games from UCF in Orlando. It was a huge series win to give them momentum heading into a tough task on the road to kick off conference play.

Here’s what to watch for against the Hawkeyes.

Iowa Hawkeyes (19-4)

Last Season

Iowa finished the 2022 season with a 36-19 overall record and a 17-7 conference record. That mark was good enough for a third place finish in the Big Ten, only behind Maryland and Rutgers.

The Hawkeyes fell to Michigan in the semifinal of the Big Ten tournament. The Terps were not on their schedule in 2022, so this weekend’s meeting will be the first between the two teams since 2021.

This Season

Iowa (19-4) stormed out of the gates this season, winning 10 of their first 11 games, including a win over #1 LSU. It was enough to get them a spot in the D1 Baseball Top 25 before dropping two out of three on the road to #22 Texas Tech.

They responded to their lone series loss of the season by winning their next eight and sneaking back into the rankings at #25. That winning streak was snapped on Tuesday, however; the Hawkeyes fell to Illinois State by a final of 5-3. 

Iowa holds a perfect 9-0 record at home, a mark that Maryland will look to change this weekend. After hosting the Terps, the Hawkeyes will hit the road to take on Bradley next Wednesday before heading to Bloomington to battle Indiana.

Hitters to Watch

The Hawkeyes’ lineup is headlined by sophomore two-way star Keaton Anthony, who took home Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-Big Ten honors last season. Anthony is batting .329 with five home runs and a 1.074 OPS. He leads the team in total bases with 51 on the season.

Graduate utility player Brennen Dorighi paces the Hawkeyes with a .369 batting average and a .481 on-base percentage. A transfer from Wofford, Dorighi was a First Team All-SoCon selection last season and has continued his stellar play with his new team this year.

Junior outfielder Kyle Huckstorf is tied with Anthony for first on the team with five homers, along with a .364 batting average and a team-leading 1.094 OPS. Huckstorf was a Big Ten All-Tournament First Team selection last season, and even took home Collegiate National Player of the Week Honors on May 24 of last year.

Utility player Sam Petersen is enjoying a breakout season in his sophomore year in Iowa City. In  his first season as a full-time starter, Petersen is slashing .343/.467/.614. 

Pitchers to Watch

Iowa has a stellar pitching staff that currently holds the lowest ERA of any Big Ten team. They’re led by their ace, sophomore right-hander Brody Brecht. After earning All-Big Ten Freshman team honors as a reliever last year, Brecht has made the transition to the rotation this season and has excelled in that role. The right-hander holds a 2.20 ERA and has racked up 46 strikeouts in 28.2 innings while holding opponents to a .146 batting average. Formerly a two-sport athlete, Brecht gave up football ahead of this baseball season, as he is expected to hear his name called early in the 2024 MLB Draft.

The top arm out of a strong Iowa bullpen is Luke Llewellyn. The junior right-hander has appeared in nine games, more than any other Hawkeye, and has posted a 2.25 ERA with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings of work. Opponents are batting just .146 off Llewellyn.

Six different pitchers have started on the mound for the Hawkeyes this season, but junior Ty Langenberg seems to be their go-to second starter behind Brecht. The right-hander has pitched in seven games, five of them starts, and holds a 4.39 ERA with 34 strikeouts in 26.2 innings. 

Projected Starting Pitchers

Friday, March 31st: Jason Savacool and Brody Brecht

Saturday, April 1st: Nick Dean and TBD

Sunday, April 2nd: Kyle McCoy and TBD