Iowa catcher Keith Brand ties hit-by-pitch season record

BY JALYN SOUCHEK | MAY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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Catcher Keith Brand has continually crowded the plate this season. That strategy caught up to him in Tuesday night’s game against Nebraska-Omaha — a pitch hit the junior for the 20th time this season, tying an Iowa baseball season record set by Kevin Hoef in 2008.

“It’s always been a part of my approach to just compete out there in any way I can,” Brand said. “I really wasn’t worried about it. Just was kind of taking it game by game, but once I started getting up there, I started to realize I was close to the record.”

The record doesn’t just lead the Hawkeye team, it leads the Big Ten as well. Nebraska’s Kash Kalkowski sits second in that category with 18 hits-by-pitch.

Brand was plunked in the bottom of the fourth-inning by Maverick pitcher Marcus Ethen. He crossed the plate, along with three other Hawkeyes, before the end of the inning, helping to close in on a Maverick lead that was, after the plated runs, 6-4.

“It’s an unselfish team approach to find any way you can to get on base,” Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm said. “He gets hit hard. It’s not a lot of fun to be getting hit by pitches, but again, it’s a very unselfish team approach that he has a knack for.”

The Black and Gold, as a whole, have been hit 86 times this season — a count 28 higher than runner-up Indiana, which has been hit by 58. The Hawkeye mark is 61 more times than Illinois, which has been hit the fewest number of times.

“It’s a mentality that we’ve tried to develop,” Dahm said. “It seems like each year we’re setting a record for getting hit by pitches. It’s a mentality for trying to cover the inside plate and not moving. It’s something that our guys have bought into.”

One of Brand’s hit-by-pitch led to a 10-9 victory over Minnesota in the series opener on April 26. The Northbrook, Ill., native was hit for the second time of the game in extra-innings with bases loaded.

Sophomore Anthony Torres was the second Hawkeye to get hit in Tuesday’s game. Torres was hit in the eighth-inning but a groundout by Brand left him stranded. It was the third time of the season Torres was plunked.

“It has a huge effect,” Torres said about being hit by pitches. “It helps us get the momentum going in certain positions and stuff like that, so it’s huge for us.”

The mark of 86 hit-by-pitches ranks seventh in Division I baseball. Delaware State leads at 107. Brand’s mark of 20 is tied for sixth individually, but he has played fewer games than those who have been hit more.

Troy Marrow, from N.C. Central, currently has been hit the most at 25 but has played in 15 more games than Brand. The Hawkeye currently sits at the top with a .59 hit-by-pitch per game ratio.

“It’s just a mentality more than anything I think,” Brand said. “I’m in there and they come in and miss the plate, I’m not going to get out of the way. I’m going to get hit by it and find a way on anyway I can.”

There are still six games left in the season, giving Brand opportunities to break Hoef’s record.

“I expect every time he plays he’ll get hit by a pitch,” Dahm said.

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