Hawkeye pitcher Marcus Morgan gave sick coach Rick Heller great medicine

Iowa City — Marcus Morgan just pitched six scoreless innings Friday night in a 9-0 victory over Iowa State and Michigan State baseball, but the West Iowa City native has that edge. I didn’t have any family to attend the game.

It wasn’t cynical. The sophomore’s parents were in Cedar Falls for a graduation ceremony in northern Iowa, and Morgan’s sister Kaylin was also in attendance.

“I told them they should be there by graduation,” Morgan said with a smile.

It was one of many nights in the last few years for the family and a very productive one. Morgan’s three sisters and her one brother are each division 1 basketball players. Crystal Smith played in Iowa for four of Michael Morgan’s seven years as Lisa Bruder’s assistant coach. Jeremy, Michaela, and Kaylin Morgan played for Northern Iowa.

Keirin isn’t done with UNI basketball yet. She plans to use her COVID-19 exemption to play the fifth season while pursuing her master’s degree.

“The first game is against Iowa,” said Michael Morgan. “I joked with her that she has to protect Caitlyn Clarke again. She’s been protecting Caitlyn since high school.”

Michael played basketball for the University of Iowa from 1984-1988.

“Forty years ago, I was recruiting on a spring trip when my contract was overdue. I’m from Louisiana. I called my mom and said, ‘It’s April and it’s snowing.’ he said. She said, “Please finish now.”

“Forty years later, I’ve lived here and raised my family here. It’s just been amazing.”

Michael’s ex-wife, Chris Morgan, has taught at the Iowa City Community School District for 35 years. Mikaela followed Chris into coaching after a 109-match career at UNI. Jeremy plays professional basketball in Europe.

And now Marcus is playing in college… baseball?

“I know a lot about basketball, but baseball is a different animal,” said Michael.

Marcus was a four-sports star at West University. He was named Gazette’s 2021 Male Athlete of the Year, along with Jeremy in 2013. Marcus had a football offer from Iowa State University and a basketball offer from UNI. He chose baseball at the University of Iowa.

With Brody Brecht having control issues lately, Iowa manager Rick Heller moved Morgan to Friday’s pitching slot to open a three-game home series against Michigan State. Morgan gave the first two batters walks.

After that, he struck out and hit a double play, and in the following 5 innings, no Spartan player crossed first base. Morgan had four walks and one hit, but struck out six and had an impressive 96 pitches.

“It’s a great start,” Heller said. “I always say I wish he was a little prettier, but he was amazing tonight.”

Jared Simpson relieved Morgan and allowed three hits in the final three innings to keep a clean sheet and give Iowa a rare Big Ten shutout.

“It was a pretty impressive night on the mound with a three-hit shutout against the strongest hitting team in the league,” Heller said.

“We walked too many leadoffs,” Morgan said. “There’s a lot of room for improvement there.”

Perhaps, but find a college coach who doesn’t take six hitless frames from a starter every time. The Hawkeyes undoubtedly welcomed this with a goal of staying in the Big Ten’s regular-season title mix and cementing a spot in the NCAA Tournament.

A good pitch is good for the coach. Heller had a very eventful ten days here.

He found that several of the 26 players in five sports in Iowa are among those who have been barred from participating in sports betting investigations. He has 1,000 wins in his career. And on Monday he underwent knee surgery.

As a baseball coach, he said: For 37 years, I believe I have been able to stay focused when I need to, put things on the back burner and move forward, and focus only on the task at hand. ”

Heller has been suffering from knee pain since January. “We had our lowest ever on Sunday,” he said.

“Dr. (Brian) Wolf[Team Physician Head of UI Athletics]is a master. I think you’re not going to run,’ he said. ”

Morgan and Simpson helped their coaches by not forcing them to go to the mound mid-inning for substitutions. After all, it’s a team game.

Comments: (319) 398-8440; mike.hlas@thegazette.com

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