Iowa baseball wrapped up the fall portion of their schedule with the Black and Gold World Series this week, which the Black Team won two games to none. Down 3-1 in the bottom of the seventh, Ben Norman blasted a solo home run to cut the lead to 3-2. After Austin Martin hit a single to put the tying run on base, Connor McCaffery came to the plate and did this:
FLIP. THAT. BAT. McCaffery's two-run homer walked off the win for the Black Team, 4-3. The Black Team finished off the series win with a 2-1 triumph on Thursday behind a two-run shot from Luke Farley in the fourth.
But let's talk a little more about McCaffery. His incredibly ambitious plan to play both basketball and baseball at Iowa has marked him as one of the most intriguing prospects to hit Iowa City in a while. That plan hit a snag last year when McCaffery was laid up for most of the year with a variety of injuries and illnesses, but he's finally healthy and ready to embrace the two-sport life now.
McCaffery explained his plans in greater detail with Hawk Central's Dargan Southard:
Iowa basketball practice officially started Oct. 1, and McCaffery has been juggling both in the two weeks of organized overlap. But he’ll shift back to basketball full-time once the Hawkeyes’ Black and Gold World Series concludes this week. That will stand until whenever Iowa is eliminated in March or April.
“I think the hardest thing for me will be staying on top of my live at-bats once the season starts for baseball, because those are hard,” McCaffery said. “Those are hard to get. I think that’ll definitely be the thing that I’ll have to adjust with. My (baseball) teammates are getting live at-bats, preparing for the season, jumping right into games — and I’m still here (at basketball).
With fall baseball over, McCaffery is all-in on hoops now and will be until Iowa's season concludes -- whenever that is. That will put him behind the curve for baseball -- in addition to most offseason training activities, he'll also miss roughly the first month's worth games next season as the baseball and basketball seasons overlap -- and it's impossible to know how this is all going to work. But he's shown a lot of promise so far in both sports and we're excited to see how it all plays out.
Meanwhile, Iowa also released their 2019 schedule. A few highlights:
- 26 of Iowa's 54 scheduled games will be at home at Duane Banks Field; fingers crossed that inclement weather doesn't impact too many of those. Iowa's home opener is against an opponent TBA on March 6 and their first home series is scheduled against CSU-Northridge on March 15-17. They also have home series with Illinois, Rutgers, Nebraska, UC Irvine, and Michigan State.
- Iowa has road series at Hawaii (!), Oklahoma State, and Evansville, as well as Big Ten series against Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State, and Maryland.
- 16 of Iowa's first 17 games are on the road or at a neutral site. That's not all that unusual for a northern team like Iowa, but it's still quite a road trip to get the season underway.
- Iowa plays four teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season (Okie State, Indiana, Purdue, and Ohio State), all on the road. If those teams are as good as they were last year, that's going to be quite a challenge.
- Iowa's Big Ten schedule sees them miss two of the top three teams last year (conference champion Minnesota and Michigan). It also sees them miss last year's two worst teams (Northwestern and Penn State). Last year Iowa went 3-3 against Minnesota and Michigan in the regular season and 4-2 against Northwestern and Penn State (with those two losses to Northwestern helping to cripple their at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament).
- Among notable non-conference opponents, Hawaii went 27-24 and finished with an RPI of 152, CSU-Northridge went 28-30 and finished with an RPI of 119, UC Irvine went 32-24 and finished with an RPI of 107, Evansville went 12-39 with an RPI of 268, and Oklahoma State went 31-26-1 with an RPI of 36.
Iowa's 2019 season gets underway at the Diamond 9 Sunshine State Classic in Kissimmee, Florida on February 15-17 with three games against George Mason, Pitt, and Marshall.