Freshman Jack Dreyer steps up in spotlight

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Freshman Jack Dreyer steps up in spotlight

Iowa pitcher Jack Dreyer throws the ball during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 11-3.  (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa pitcher Jack Dreyer throws the ball during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 11-3. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Katina Zentz

Iowa pitcher Jack Dreyer throws the ball during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 11-3. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

The Daily Iowan; Katina Zentz

The Daily Iowan; Katina Zentz

Iowa pitcher Jack Dreyer throws the ball during baseball Iowa vs. Oklahoma State at Duane Banks Field on May 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cowboys 11-3. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

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Jack Dreyer had never pitched more than 2.1 innings in his Hawkeye baseball career.

That changed Sunday, when Iowa, looking for a series-clinching victory against No. 12 Oklahoma State, turned to the freshman as its starter. Dreyer delivered, coming through for his third win this season and giving Iowa a massive momentum boost.

Iowa’s usual Sunday starter, Cole McDonald went down with an injury against Michigan on April 29. As of now, the diagnosis doesn’t appear too serious, and he should be on track to return before the Big Ten Tournament on May 23.

Regardless, there was a void to fill in Iowa’s lineup, and with the series on the line, the Hawkeyes called upon the freshman, who learned he would start after the May 5 16-14 win over the Cowboys.

“[I had] a lot of confidence, not making too big a deal out of it,” Dreyer said. “I have guys like Nick Allgeyer and McDonald who just instill confidence in me — just making sure that I’m not making more than what it is, and just go out there and have fun.”

Dreyer pitched 5 innings on Sunday, leading the Black and Gold to a stout defensive showing.

The Johnston native only gave up a single run — a home run by Oklahoma State’s Carson McCusker — and silenced Cowboy batters, striking out 6.

“It was extremely impressive,” Hawkeye Chris Whelan said. “We older guys can’t thank him enough for what he did there, especially because he hasn’t had a start like that since Taiwan–big start, big stage … He did an incredible job.”

Oklahoma State entered Sunday’s contest hitting well; the Cowboys averaged 9 runs over their past five games, scoring 10 or more runs twice during that span, and averaging 11.4 hits per game.

The Cowboys concluded their 11-3 loss to the Hawkeyes with 6 hits — roughly 3 runs and 3 hits fewer than their season average, thanks to Dreyer’s heroics and Grant Judkins’ and Nick Nelsen’s relief.

Dreyer’s statement win doesn’t just give Iowa another win on its résumé, it gives head coach Rick Heller more to think about for the upcoming series on the road against Northwestern on May 11.

McDonald and the Hawkeye pitching staff are awaiting ultrasound results, but in the meantime, Heller said that even if the pitcher is cleared to go against Northwestern, he’d consider other options for the sake of not rushing another injured arm back, and Dreyer could be the leading name going forward.

“We’ll evaluate [and] have a chance to break down Northwestern and see how their splits are left and right, and go from there, but I mean, what an awesome job by Jack,” Heller said.

With a performance such as the one he displayed Sunday, there’s a good chance Dreyer will hear his name called for that third starting gig, but if not, his faith in the coaching staff remains strong.

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