PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — Redshirt sophomore Jack Dreyer dominated Friday, punching out eight Kent State hitters over five innings to lead the University of Iowa baseball team (1-0) to a 3-1 victory in the season opener at the Snowbird Baseball Classic.
“It feels great,” said head coach Rick Heller following the win. “It was a hard-fought game against a good team. I am happy with how we played in our first outing. We got good pitching.”
The pitching effort began with Dreyer, who started his first game since missing most of last season with a shoulder injury. The southpaw allowed a leadoff walk before retiring nine straight batters, including a streak of four straight strikeouts.
“He started out a little shaky with the strike zone,” Heller said. “He fought out of that and cruised through the next four innings. He was solid, and I am happy with how Jack pitched.”
The Johnston, Iowa, native induced an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play on his final pitch to leave the game allowing no runs and only two hits, while issuing one walk.
“It felt good,” Dreyer said. “It felt nice to be with the team again and travel with them. My confidence was at an all-time high. I know that my team is going to help support me on defense and offense. We went out there and did our jobs tonight.”
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Iowa’s offense started slow but pushed the game’s first run across in the third inning. Sophomore Brendan Sher, who started at shortstop, doubled down the third-base line on a high chopper over the third baseman’s head to start the inning. He came around to score on a wild pitch for his first of two runs scored.
In the fifth, Sher began the inning with a leadoff walk, before advancing to second on a balk, and third via a passed ball. On an 0-2 count, senior Ben Norman singled through the left side, knocking in Sher to give the Hawkeyes a 2-0 lead.
The Golden Flashes used two hits and an errant throw to second base on a stolen base to score their only run of the game in the seventh inning.
The Hawkeyes tacked on an insurance run in the eighth via two Kent State errors to give closer Grant Leonard a 3-1 lead heading to the ninth. Leonard struck out two Golden Flashes to earn his first save of the season and 17th of his career, which moved Leonard into a tie for fourth all-time.
Iowa’s relievers — Drew Irvine, Ben Beutel, Trace Hoffman, and Leonard – combined for six strikeouts over the last four innings, while allowing only three hits.
- Today marked the seventh time in Dreyer’s career he’s struck out at least five batters in a game.
- The Iowa pitching staff combined to strike out 14 Kent State hitters, while Iowa only struck out six times at the plate with four walks.
- Iowa pitchers limited Kent State to just 2-for-13 (.154) with runners in scoring position.
- Senior catcher Austin Martin went 2-for-4 out of the five hole.
Iowa will face Saint Joseph’s tomorrow at 2 p.m. (CT) at CoolToday Park, the new spring training home of the Atlanta Braves. Saint Joseph’s beat No. 24 Ohio State, 7-3, in their season opener.
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