Izaya Fullard's transition to second base is one of the biggest keys for Iowa in 2020. Hawk Central
The expectations for Jack Dreyer are sky-high in 2020 as he looks to settle in as Iowa's latest weekend anchor. His season debut was a successful one.
Dryer tossed five scoreless innings and struck out eight, propelling the Hawkeyes to Friday's opening-day victory, 3-1, over Kent State at the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida.
After missing almost all of last season with a shoulder issue, Dreyer was ready to roll in his first start since Feb. 23, 2019. The Johnston product surrendered only four baserunners — two hits, one walk and one hit batsman — in keeping Kent State silent most of the day.
After walking the game's first batter, Dreyer retired the next nine straight with little resistance. The Golden Flashes (0-1) did get a runner to third in the fourth on a double and a single, but Dreyer wiggled out of the jam unscathed to preserve Iowa's 1-0 lead.
From there, relievers Drew Irvine, Ben Beutel and Trace Hoffman got the game to closer Grant Leonard without a ton of drama. Irvine did yield three hits and an unearned run in the seventh, but Iowa's bullpen arms kept the threats at a minimum. Leonard worked a flawless ninth for his 17th career save.
The offense wasn't super crisp, mustering only five hits off four Kent State pitchers, but Iowa broke through enough in spurts. An unearned run crossed in the third after Brendan Sher doubled, moved to third on a fly to center and scored on a wild pitch. Ben Norman's RBI single in the fifth and another unearned run in the eighth gave Iowa (1-0) two separate two-run leads.
Norman got the first shot atop the lineup, going 1-for-4 while reaching on an error. Austin Martin banged out two hits. Other lineup notes included Brett McCleary starting as the designated hitter following a strong fall, and JUCO newcomer Dylan Nedved getting the opening crack at third base.
All in all, a decent start for Iowa. The Hawkeyes are back in action Saturday against St. Joseph's. First pitch is set for 2 p.m. from CoolToday Park — the Atlanta Braves' new Spring Training facility.
Dargan Southard covers Iowa and UNI athletics, recruiting and preps for the Des Moines Register, HawkCentral.com and the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @Dargan_Southard.