Hawkeye baseball turns to intrasquad scrimmages

The Hawkeyes have been scrimmaging twice a week in the absence of fall competition because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


David Harmantas

University of Iowa baseball player Jack Dreyer winds up to pitch during a game against Penn State University on Saturday, May 19, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 8-4.

Will Fineman, Sports Reporter

The Hawkeyes are back at Duane Banks Field and have kicked off their annual Black and Gold World Series.

The Iowa baseball team has been playing in intrasquad scrimmages twice a week since the middle of September in the absence of fall competition.

“They are really important for a number of reasons,” head coach Rick Heller said. “One is just to get the practice and the reps going into the winter. Being a northern team, we’re likely going to have to play our first game before we even get to scrimmage.”

The fall is also an important evaluation period for the coaching staff, as it is likely the last time they will get to see their guys playing live on-field baseball before the season starts in the spring.

For the position players, fall scrimmages present the opportunity to make adjustments against similar pitching to what they would see in competitive matchups.

“Obviously, it’s easy to work on things I am trying to get better at off of batting practice when it is coming in slow,” redshirt freshman first baseman Peyton Williams said. “When I actually have to see someone throwing 90 miles per hour, it really shows where I have to work.”

The schedule for pitchers during the fall is not very different from their spring routine. Bullpens and drill work throughout the week help the group prepare for their predetermined appearance in a scrimmage on Thursday or Friday.

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“Between throwing a bullpen and throwing in a game is just a huge difference,” said redshirt sophomore pitcher Jack Dreyer. “Not only are you facing batters but things like your adrenaline, warm-up process, and not getting instant feedback on the pitch metrics are all little things that go into it.”

The Black and Gold World Series is always an exciting event for the Hawkeyes in the fall. The team captains pick their players, coaches, and team managers before facing off in a best-of-five series.

The Gold team grabbed the win in last year’s world series earning themselves a free meal courtesy of their teammates on the Black squad.

“Every college team kind of has their own thing, whether it’s for pizza or wings or whatever it is,” Heller said. “It’s a way to spruce up the last week of fall ball heading into the offseason training period.”

Transitioning out of quarantine, the team has dealt with some minor injuries likely stemming from a return to practice after period where they were not allowed to train. The Hawkeyes have avoided many major differences to their practices from COVID-19 regulations with the exception of wearing masks, frequent testing, and increased social distancing on the field.

“Once they gave us the go, we tried to keep everything as close to normal as possible,” Williams said. “Once you are on the field, everything is the same basically.”

Players do not have to wear masks when they are on the field, but coaches, players, and other personnel are expected to wear them in the dugouts at all times — something Dreyer noted positively.

“So far, guys have done a really good job of making sure that they keep masks on at all times,” the pitcher said. “It’s not always easy to wear a mask when you are breathing heavy and working out, but our guys have done a good job.”