2012 Iowa Conference champions
PELLA — Second-place Coe College put the pressure on in the top of the ninth inning, but the Iowa Conference-leading Central College baseball team held on for a 6-5 win in the first of a three-game conference series Friday.
After two quick outs and the Dutch holding a 6-4 advantage to start the ninth, the Kohawks scraped a single to left field to keep the inning alive. After two more singles, one for an RBI, Coe (18-12, 6-4 conference) advanced the tying runner to third, but Central (24-6, 14-2 conference) at last secured the final out on a pop up to second base.
Joel Pulliam (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) did 8.2 innings of work from the mound, giving up two earned runs on five hits. The senior walked two and struck out six on the day. Sophomore Judson McKown (Maple Plain, Minn., Orono HS) came in for the final out, allowing two hits. The win moves Pulliam to 6-1 on the season, while McKown earns his second save.
The Dutch committed six errors in what coach Adam Stevens called an uncharacteristically sloppy defensive effort.
“It definitely wasn’t our best-played game,” said Stevens. “We’ve had outstanding defense all season long and obviously we didn’t have that today. Coe put pressure on us and they hit the ball hard. Those were tough errors.”
Central balanced its defensive woes with a sterling offensive performance. The Dutch accumulated 10 hits as a team. Senior shortstop Mike Furlong (Davenport, Assumption HS) led the charge with homerun in the first inning to start off a 2-for-5 day. Designated hitter Erik Sipes (freshman, Hudson, Ill., Normal West HS) was 2-for-3 with three RBIs and centerfielder Sam Stetzel (junior, Perry) was 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
“We didn’t have the defensive phase going, but our offense came through,” said Stevens. “We hit the ball hard today. We got some big hits and that relaxed us.”
Central will look to take the series from the Kohawks Saturday in doubleheader action. The opener starts at 1 p.m. from the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex field in Pella with the nightcap to follow.
“Naturally we want to play better tomorrow and I’m confident our guys will make the plays,” said Stevens.