Iowa native Nic Ungs is in his sixth season as the director of baseball operations for the University of Iowa baseball program. Ungs also serves as the director of the Rick Heller Iowa Baseball Camps.
During the 2022 season, Iowa won 36 games — the eighth most wins in a single season in program history — and finished tied for second in the Big Ten, posting a 17-7 overall record. Iowa won 20 of 27, 23 of 32 and 30 of 42 games down the stretch, including winning six straight series to close out the regular season to put itself in NCAA Regional conversation at season’s end. The Hawkeyes qualified for the Big Ten Tournament and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 2017.
The Hawkeyes won with a pitching staff that was among the nation’s best, as it ranked second nationally in hits allowed per nine innings (6.88), third in strikeouts per nine innings (11.2), fourth in ERA (3.72) and 11th in WHIP (1.29). The staff led the Big Ten in virtually every pitching category during the season and it racked up a program record 609 strikeouts, shattering the previous record of 499 set in 2018.
The coaching staff transformed South Dakota State transfer Adam Mazur into the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year — the second straight Hawkeye to earn the honor. Mazur earned Collegiate Baseball Second-Team All-America and ABCA/Rawlings Third-Team All-America honors, while earning first-team all-region and first-team All-Big Ten distinction after going 7-3 with a 3.07 ERA with 98 strikeouts over 93 2/3 innings. Mazur had nine quality starts during the season.
Mazur led a quartet of Hawkeyes selected in the 2022 MLB Draft, as he was drafted in the second round (53rd pick) by the San Diego Padres. He was the program’s highest draft pick since 1990. The program also had two additional top 10 round picks — the three top 10 rounders are the most in school history — in Peyton Williams (Seventh Round, Toronto) and Dylan Nedved (Ninth Round, San Diego), while Duncan Davitt was chosen in the 18th Round by Tampa Bay. Ben Beutel also signed as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago White Sox.
The Hawkeyes’ roster also boasted the Big Ten Freshman of the Year as Keaton Anthony became the second player in program history to earn the distinction. The Georgia native also garnered Freshman All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA (and second-team All-Big Ten) after hitting .361 with 22 doubles, 14 home runs, 55 RBIs and 46 runs scored. The 14 home runs were the most by a Hawkeye freshman since 1999.
Freshman fireballer Brody Brecht earned Freshman All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball and Perfect Game after fanning 44 over 22 2/3 innings and allowing just one extra base hit.
Iowa had a total of four All-Big Ten selections and four ABCA/Rawlings All-Region honorees in 2022. Peyton Williams (.355/17 2B, 13 HR, 55 R, 41 RBIs) earned first-team All-Big Ten and second-team all-region honors, while senior reliever Ben Beutel earned second-team honors by both outlets after going 3-0 with a 1.47 ERA with four saves in 29 appearances. Beutel picked off nine batters during the year en route to being the second Hawkeye all-time to earn a Rawlings Gold Glove for being the best defensive pitcher in Division I college baseball.
Redshirt sophomore Kyle Huckstorf had a game for the ages against Indiana on May 19. The outfielder set Big Ten and Iowa records for hits and RBIs, finishing 6-for-7 with three home runs, 12 RBIs and four runs scored. Huckstorf hit two three-run home runs in a 10-run fourth inning, connected on a grand slam in the fifth and his two-run eighth inning single gave him the Big Ten RBI and hits record. Huckstorf earned Collegiate Baseball National Player of the Week, Dick Howser Trophy National Co-Hitter of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
Iowa earned a program record 13 Big Ten weekly honors during the regular season, including six Freshman of the Week honors for Anthony. Iowa also had 10 student-athletes recognized as Academic All-Big Ten selections.
During the 2021 season, the Hawkeyes won a school-record 26 Big Ten games, finishing 26-18 overall, while facing a Big Ten-only schedule during the COVID-affected season. After starting the season 4-8, Iowa rattled off 11 wins in 12 contests and 15 in 18 games. The team won seven of their final 10 series to be in the middle of the NCAA Regional conversation at season’s end.
Friday night starter Trenton Wallace had a breakthrough season, earning second-team All-America honors by both ABCA/Rawlings and Collegiate Baseball. He also was the first Hawkeye to earn Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors after going 7-1 with a 2.34 ERA over 73 innings and 13 starts. His 106 strikeouts were the second-most all-time behind Jim Magrane’s 110 strikeouts in 1999.
Senior Ben Norman earned first-team All-Big Ten and first-team all-region honors after leading the league in RBIs (53) and triples (4). Norman finished his career ranked in the top-11 in school history in eight different categories. Redshirt junior Izaya Fullard also earned All-Big Ten honors (third-team). Four players joined MLB organizations following the season, as Wallace and Drew Irvine were MLB Draft picks, while Norman and Jack Dreyer signed as undrafted free agents.
During the 2020 season, Iowa won 10 games in the first month, including posting victories over ranked foes No. 18 Arizona, No. 20 North Carolina, and No. 14 Duke. The Hawkeyes went 2-1 at the CambriaCollegeClassic, a tournament in Minneapolis pitting the Big Ten Conference against the ACC. The season came to an abrupt end on March 12 when it was cancelled because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
During his second season in Iowa City, Ungs helped the Hawkeyes to 31 victories — the program’s sixth straight 30-win season — and a record sixth straight Big Ten Tournament appearance. Iowa won six straight series during the regular season, which included series wins over No. 23 Illinois, No. 30 Nebraska, and No. 18 UC Irvine.
The team went 10-3 against top-30 opponents in 2019, including taking two of three games at No. 19 Oklahoma State.
Redshirt junior Grant Leonard set a program saves record, converting all 14 of his chances to garner second-team All-Big Ten honors. Leonard was named to the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Midseason List and he finished seventh nationally in saves.
After leading the Hawkeyes to a Big Ten Tournament win over top-seeded Indiana, Friday night starter Cole McDonald was selected in the 14th round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft by the Houston Astros.
In Ung’s first season at Iowa, the Hawkeyes posted their fifth straight 30-win season, finishing 33-20 overall. Iowa posted three series wins against ranked opponents and finished with eight victories against top 25 teams. The Hawkeyes snapped seventh-ranked Michigan’s 20-game winning streak, giving the program its first win over a top 10 opponent since 2008.
The Hawkeyes had four All-Big Ten selections, including three first-team selections in Allgeyer, Tyler Cropley, and Robert Neustrom. It was the most first-team selections for the program since 1990. Cropley also earned second-team All-America honors by Collegiate Baseball, a second-team ABCA all-district nod, and was a semifinalist for the Johnny Bench Award, an honor presented to the top collegiate catcher.
Iowa was well represented in the 2018 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft with a record-tying five selections. Neustrom was selected in the fifth round by the Baltimore Orioles, becoming the Hawkeyes’ highest position player selection since 1992. Cropley was taken in the eighth round (Washington), Allgeyer was a 12th-round pick by Toronto, Zach Daniels was selected in Round 19 by Atlanta, and Brady Schanuel in the 27th Round by Milwaukee.
Ungs joined the program after working in information technology and spending nine years as the pitching coordinator with the Georgia Bombers Baseball Club in Atlanta. He coached 45 players that went on to play Division I baseball and nine players were drafted in the 2016 and 2017 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Drafts.
The Dyersville, Iowa, native played professionally for 11 years after being selected in the 12th round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Florida Marlins. He played in the Marlins and Milwaukee Brewers organizations — four years at the Triple-A level and five years in Double-A. He had an 82-68 career record with a 3.79 ERA and he tossed a no-hitter in 2005.
During his first season with the Utica Blue Sox in the New York-Penn League, Ungs had 40 strikeouts without issuing a walk in 12 appearances (11 starts). Ungs had a reputation of impeccable control throughout his career, which led to him earning the title of best control in the Florida State League by Baseball America in 2003.
Ungs also played internationally in Venezuela, Taiwan, Australia, and Cuba and was a member of the United States Olympic Team in 2005 and 2006.
During his career at Northern Iowa, Ungs was named the Missouri Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2001 after going 11-2 with a 2.48 ERA and finishing with 114 strikeouts to 14 walks in 109 innings. The Panthers won a school-record 35 games, claimed the MVC Conference Tournament title, and advanced to the NCAA Regionals for the first time in program history.
Ungs also was a second-team All-American, a first-team All-Valley selection, and was later named to the MVC All-Decade team. He played under Rick Heller in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and he was a college teammate of Iowa associate head coach Marty Sutherland.
In 2015, Ungs was inducted into the Northern Iowa Athletics Hall of Fame. He graduated from Northern Iowa in 2001 with a degree in general studies. He and his wife, Whitney, reside in Iowa City with their Bernedoodle Nash.