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 — Five years ago, Austin Guzzo sat in the visiting dugout at Duane Banks Field as a member of the Ontario Blue Jays, a traveling Canadian baseball team. Tonight, he’ll take the same field in his final home game as a Hawkeye.
Guzzo will be one of four seniors, along with Tyler Cropley, Matt Hoeg, and Nick Nelsen, being honored on Senior Night at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes host Penn State at 6:32 p.m. (CT) on Saturday in the finale of the three-game series.
“It’s exciting, but at the same time, it’s sad,” said Guzzo, an infielder from Brooklin, Ontario, Canada. “You don’t realize it’s your final weekend until you’re actually suiting up. It has been so much fun with so many memories and lasting relationships. We have done so much the past four years; I don’t have any regrets.”
In the fall of 2013, Guzzo played for the Blue Jays in a fall exhibition in Iowa City. He made an impression and that got the ball rolling for Guzzo to become a Hawkeye.
“I had a good day and Marty (Sutherland) and coach (Rick) Heller both liked me,” said Guzzo. “We talked for several months and were able to work something out. I figured this would be the best place to play and an opportunity to be part of a winning culture that coach Heller was creating.”
Guzzo has been part of Heller’s Hawkeye transformation. Iowa has won 142 games over the past four seasons; it is the best four-year stretch in school history.
Iowa won 41 games in 2015 and in the process, ended a 25-year NCAA Tournament. The Hawkeyes followed with back-to-back Big Ten Tournament title game appearances, claiming their first Big Ten Tournament title in 2017.
The Hawkeyes will play in the league tournament for a record fifth consecutive year next week and are fighting for their third NCAA Regional berth in the last four seasons.
“It has been awesome to be part of such a good culture,” said Guzzo. “It has been an experience of a lifetime. I am thankful to be part of such a good program and to be able to get out there with the guys every day. Being part of this has been awesome.”
Guzzo has been a jack-of-all-trades for the Hawkeyes, seeing action at five different positions in his career. He has overcome injury to appear in 144 games, where he has 13 doubles, eight home runs, and 55 RBIs. Guzzo was a key to Iowa’s Big Ten Tournament run in 2016 as the No. 8 seed, where he was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament team.
“I want people to remember me as a guy who didn’t have a whole lot coming in,” said Guzzo. “I found a way to make things work and I worked every day to try to become better. I have had a few setbacks with injury, but I never counted myself out.
“I always gave 100 percent, picked guys up, and never brought anyone down. I tried to make everyone around me better, even when I wasn’t doing so well myself.”
Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPNU with Steve Lenox and Nick Belmonte on the call.