Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide. To receive daily news from the Iowa Hawkeyes, sign up HERE.
By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Six University of Iowa baseball seniors will play their final home Big Ten Conference series this weekend at Duane Banks Field. Josh Martsching is the elder statesman.
Martsching is joined in the 2017 senior class by three-year Hawkeyes Corbin Woods and Ryan Erickson, two-year starter Mason McCoy, and one-year players Sam Norman and Drake Robison.
“The time flew by,” said Martsching, a right-handed pitcher from Bloomfield, Iowa. “I was talking to Corbin (Woods) this week at practice and he asked me, ‘You’ve been here pretty much every day for five years, how weird is it going to be not coming back?'”
It’s a question Martsching hadn’t pondered because he is having so much fun on the mound as Iowa’s top reliever. He is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA with five saves over 20 appearances. He has 34 strikeouts (against seven walks) in 29 2/3 innings.
Martsching is showing a swagger on the mound that he wishes he had years earlier.
“I wish I had the confidence I had the last two years during my redshirt sophomore and freshman seasons,” said Martsching. “I think it took me awhile to realize that I belonged at this level. Once I figured that out, it has been fun to pitch.”
Martsching arrived on campus in 2013 as one of Iowa’s “Bloomfield Boys” along with high school teammate Calvin Mathews. After making 18 appearances and logging 34 1/3 innings as a true freshman, Martsching missed all of 2014 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He spent 2015 getting back into form during Iowa’s NCAA Regional run. In 2016, Martsching was back; he went 2-1 with a 2.41 ERA and four saves over 16 appearances.
Throughout his Hawkeye career, Martsching learned from his Iowa teammates.
He saw the determination and mindset of Ricky Sandquist as a freshman and he studied Nick Hibbing throughout his dominating senior season — one that culminated with Hibbing being selected as the NCAA Springfield Regional Most Outstanding Player.
“I tried to piece everyone’s performances together,” said Martsching. “Watching all those guys helped me become the pitcher I am today. I have confidence to go out and perform.”
Martsching has been Iowa head coach Rick Heller’s most reliable reliever as a senior. Martsching has career-highs in appearances and strikeouts and he is on pace to surpass his career-high in innings. He has made multiple weekend appearances in five series’ this season.
Martsching hangs his hat on being part of the program’s turnaround. The team won 22 games and missed the Big Ten Tournament during his freshman season, but the Hawkeyes have won 130 games in the four seasons since.
“It’s been fun to be part of the transformation,” said Martsching. “We went from being below average record-wise during my freshman year to now we’re a threat in the Big Ten year-in and year-out.”
The Hawkeyes are one win shy of their fourth-straight 30-win season and are in a good position to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament for a record fourth consecutive season.
Iowa hosts Ohio State for a three-game series, beginning Friday at 6:05 p.m. (CT). Game two is set for 2:05 p.m. (CT) Saturday, and the Hawkeyes will close the series with Senior Day on Sunday at 1:05 p.m.
The Hawkeyes’ home finale and Martsching’s final home game at Banks Field is Tuesday against Omaha at 6:05 p.m.
“It has been a good ride,” said Martsching. “Moving forward, it will be a little bit different.”