Iowa baseball goes 2-1 in season-opening road trip

Pitching helped the Hawkeyes win their first two games of the season, but it also played a role in their lone loss.


Katina Zentz

Iowa pitcher Grant Leonard prepares to throw the ball during the game against UC Irvine at Duane Banks Field on Saturday, May 4, 2019.

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

Iowa baseball kicked its season off on a high note, taking down Kent State and Saint Joseph’s in its first two games. But it couldn’t complete the perfect weekend.

After beating the Golden Flashes, 3-1, and toppling the Hawks, 7-2, the Hawkeyes fell to Pittsburgh in a high-scoring affair, 10-8, in the most unlikely of circumstances on Sunday.

Second-team All-American closer Grant Leonard entered the game for Iowa in the eighth inning with an 8-5 lead in his back pocket.

He then blew his first save in more than a year.

Leonard gave up four earned runs on four hits in 0.1 innings of work, as the Panthers scored five runs in the eighth to complete the comeback.

Leonard’s weekend wasn’t completely overshadowed by his rough outing on Sunday, however.

The Mokena, Illinois, native recorded his first save of the new campaign in Iowa’s victory over Kent State on Feb. 14.

The Hawkeyes took a lead over the Golden Flashes in the third inning and never looked back.

With a 3-1 lead in the ninth, Leonard took the Kent State lineup down in order and punched out two batters to put an exclamation mark on Iowa’s season-opening win.

But Leonard wasn’t the only Hawkeye pitcher shining.

Starter Jack Dreyer pitched his first meaningful innings since Feb. 23, 2019, and he impressed. Dreyer pitched five strong innings, giving up only two hits and striking out eight.

After allowing a leadoff walk, Dreyer recorded nine consecutive outs, including a stretch of four straight strikeouts to end the first and second innings.

“It felt good,” Dreyer said in a release. “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.”

The Hawkeyes continued their streak of strong pitching into their win over Saint Joseph’s on Feb. 15, as well.

Starter Grant Judkins kept the Hawks scoreless for four innings before allowing two runs in the fifth.

Shortly after, Trenton Wallace and Ben Probst combined to allow just one hit in four scoreless innings to close the game.

The offense was just as good.

Outfielder Ben Norman celebrated his birthday on Feb. 15 by going 4-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.

“Luckily we had a good scouting report on the guy,” Norman said in a release. “I got some good pitches in some good locations, got my barrel on it, and found some holes. I’m glad to get on for the guys, and they can hit me in.”

It ended up being a celebration for Iowa as a team, picking up its second win in dominant fashion.

“I liked the way it started,” Iowa head coach Rick Heller said in a release. “The guys came out with a lot of energy. Grant Judkins went five innings and pitched extremely well. Ben Norman, on his birthday, went 4-for-4 and had a great day.”