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Iowa Baseball Weekend Preview: Florida International

On3 imageby:Kyle Huesmann05/15/24



The Iowa Baseball team is headed to Des Moines this weekend for a three-game series against Florida International. At the beginning of the season, many expected this series to be played with the Hawkeyes in range of hosting an NCAA regional. Instead, they are just looking to build some momentum heading into the Big Ten Tournament. This past weekend, Iowa traveled to Illinois for a three-game set. The Illini took game one 10-5 on Friday, but the Hawkeyes evened the series with a 10-4 win on Saturday, including a ninth inning grand slam from Ben Wilmes. On Sunday, Iowa hit solo home runs in the first two innings to take an early lead, but a five-run fifth inning propelled Illinois to a 6-3 win in the series finale.

The Panthers come into the weekend with a 25-26 overall record, including an 11-13 mark in CUSA play, which is good for sixth place. Notably, FIU split four-game series with Notre Dame and Seton Hall in non-conference play, while they also have a midweek win over Miami FL. They went just 1-5 in their two toughest series against Dallas Baptist and Louisiana Tech.

FIU Last 10 Games (2-8)

April 27-28 vs Dallas Baptist: L 5-2 (11), L 11-0 May 3-4 at Liberty: W 10-7, L 11-5, L 12-11 May 8 at Miami FL: W 9-7 May 10-12 vs Sam Houston State: L 7-1, L 16-13, L 10-6 May 14 vs Miami FL: L 6-5


RHP Brody Brecht (Thursday) – The biggest positive over the last four weeks has been the dominance of Brody Brecht. Over his last four starts, Brecht has allowed just five runs on eight hits over 28.2 innings, including 45 strikeouts to 11 walks. He has thrown 61.7% of his 436 pitches for strikes. This version of Brody Brecht will get Iowa a win this weekend and will give them a chance to win against anyone at the Big Ten Tournament.

LHP Cade Obermueller (Friday) – Several things are going to have to go Iowa’s way for them to make a run at the Big Ten Tournament and one of them is Cade Obermueller putting together a solid start. After missing two weeks with an undisclosed injury, Cade returned to the rotation last weekend against Illinois. It wasn’t exactly surprising to seem him struggle a bit given that he hadn’t pitched in nearly three weeks and was facing the top offense in the Big Ten. He allowed five runs on five hits over 1.2 innings and threw just 48 pitches. That places a bit of extra importance on this week’s start against FIU. It would be nice to see Cade have a solid outing prior to his appearance at the Big Ten Tournament.

RHP Marcus Morgan or Anthony Watts (Saturday) – If I’m Rick Heller, I go with Anthony Watts on Sunday and give him an audition to potentially start a game at the Big Ten Tournament. A couple of his early season appearances hurt his overall numbers, but in his last 16 outings, Watts has a 2.12 ERA over 29.2 innings, including 38 strikeouts to 20 walks. Opponents are averaging just 0.64 his per inning over that span. We will see if Coach Heller makes the change, but at this point, Watts gives you a better chance at solid start compared to Marcus.


RHP Cameron Knox (TBA) – Possibly the Thursday starter for the Panthers, Cameron Knox has appeared in 14 games with 12 starts this season. He owns a 3.61 ERA over 47.1 innings, including 32 strikeouts to just 12 walks. Knox is very much a contact pitcher, as 77.5% of his outs recorded have come on balls in play. Opponents are batting .245 against him and averaging 0.95 hits per inning. Last time out against Sam Houston State, Knox allowed two runs on four hits over 4.0 innings, including three strikeouts to two walks.

RHP Joel Pineiro (TBA) – Another expected starter for FIU this weekend, Joel Pineiro has appeared in 14 games with 13 starts this season. He brings in a 6.41 ERA over 53.1 innings, including 49 strikeouts to 38 free bases. Opponents are batting .261 against Pineiro and have hit him hard, as 39.6% of his 53 hits allowed have gone for extra bases, including 13 home runs. That’s third most by a pitcher in the CUSA. Last time out against Sam Houston State, Pineiro allowed two runs on four hits over 4.2 innings, including five strikeouts to two walks.

Starter #3 (TBA) – Guesssing the number three starter for the Panthers is a bit of a challenge. Junior Owen Puk has started nine games and will be returning to his home state of Iowa, but he has a 9.38 ERA over 24.0 innings. Outside of that, David Eckaus (5 starts, 6.16 ERA), Logan Runde (3 starts, 4.62 ERA) and Ryan Cabarcas (3 starts, 4.89 ERA) are the other options.

David Eckaus made the Saturday start last weekend against Sam Houston State, allowing four runs on four hits over 3.1 innings, including five strikeouts to three walks.


1. DH Ryne Guida – One of three players for the Panthers to start all 51 games, Ryne Guida is the top hitter in the FIU lineup. He is batting .340, with a .424 on-base percentage, including a team-leading 69 hits, 17 doubles, nine home runs and a team-leading 55 RBI’s. He is fifth in the CUSA in doubles and sixth in RBI’s. Guida has racked up 20 multi-hit games and has 15 RBI’s over the last eight games.

2. 3B Brylan West – A transfer from South Florida State College, third baseman Brylan West may have similar, if not better numbers than Guida, but he has missed six games this season. He leads the team with a .339 average, while his .465 on-base percentage is sixth-best in the CUSA. West has racked up 44 runs scored, 59 hits, 15 doubles, nine home runs and 38 RBI’s. He is also tied for second in the conference with 18 hit by pitches. West has 15 multi-hit games, including 13 hits over the last eight games.

3. OF Kishon Frett – A transfer from Seminole State, Kishon Frett is the top power hitter in the FIU lineup. Frett is eighth in the CUSA with a .614 slugging percentage, while he is batting .265, with a .375 on-base percentage, including 14 home runs and 34 RBI’s. He is averaging a home run every 11.2 plate appearances, which leads the CUSA by a fair amount. Frett does have a tendency to strikeout, with a high 32.5% strikeout rate.

4. 1B Jeff Liquori – A transfer from Florida Southern, Jeff Liquori is one of five players on the roster with at least eight home runs. Liquori is batting .308, including 64 hits, seven doubles, ten home runs and 45 RBI’s. He has racked up 18 multi-hit games, including a five-hit night back on May 4th against Liberty.

5. LHP Zac Lampton – The FIU pitching staff is sixth out of nine teams in the CUSA in ERA (5.90), but lefthander Zac Lampton has been a really solid bullpen arm this season. Lampton has appeared in 19 games, with a 3.3 ERA, including 63 strikeouts to 20 walks. Opponents are batting .201 against him and are averaging just 0.72 hits per inning. Lampton has recorded 3+ strikeouts in eight of his last ten outings.


The results of this series on paper largely do not matter. The Hawkeyes are well out of the NCAA Tournament hunt with an RPI in the low 90’s. That being said, this weekend will allow Rick Heller to have a trial run with his pitching staff prior to the Big Ten Tournament. On top of that, any positive momentum they can get before they head to Omaha next week will be important. It would be much easier for the Hawkeyes to get excited for a run at the Big Ten Tournament after a sweep, rather than limping in after losing two of three to FIU.

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