2012 Iowa Conference champions
MOUNT VERNON — Up by one run in the bottom of the ninth with Cornell College rallying, the Central College baseball team’s defense bent but didn’t break and the Dutch secured 6-5 Iowa Conference victory Saturday, clinching a share of the conference title and earning coach Adam Stevens’ 200th career win.
“It’s a nice milestone to reach but to be honest I’m happier with the win over Cornell,” said Stevens. “It clinches a share of the conference title, and now we can focus on hopefully clinching outright.”
After inheriting a 12-24 club in 2003, Stevens has amassed a 200-157 overall record in nine seasons as the Dutch skipper. He was named Iowa Conference co-coach of the year in 2005 and also led the Dutch to a share of the league title in 2006.
With three conference games remaining, the Dutch need one more win to secure the outright title.
Cornell (8-26, 5-13 conference) cut a three-run Central lead down to a single tally late in Saturday’s matchup and the Rams put the winning run on base in the ninth. But with two outs, centerfielder Sam Stetzel (junior, Perry) hauled in a fly ball to notch the final out and stifle the Cornell comeback bid.
“We were really solid on defense today,” said Stevens. “Mike Furlong (senior, Davenport, Assumption HS) had some great, tough plays at shortstop. Without some of them, the game could have turned out differently.”
The Dutch (26-9, 16-5 conference) held a narrow 4-3 advantage after five frames. In the top of the sixth, leftfielder Michael Jontz (junior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) rocketed a two-RBI double to left center field and the Dutch claimed a 6-3 advantage.
The Rams responded with two runs of their own to narrow the gap in seventh, but Central’s defense held in the last two frames.
Jontz was 2-for-3 on the day, driving in three runs and scoring one himself. First baseman Seth Carson (junior, Woodridge, Ill., Downers Grove South HS) was 2-for-4 with two RBIs and one run scored while Furlong was 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
“I really liked our offense,” said Stevens. “We stole six bases, which always helps, and we threatened to score a lot.”
Central totaled 11 hits as a team and held Cornell to six. The Dutch committed two errors while the Rams had three.
Senior Joel Pulliam (Des Moines, Lincoln HS) did five innings of work from the mound and allowed three earned runs on two hits while striking out two and walking five. The senior was awarded the win and climbs to 7-1 on the season. Sophomore Judson McKown (Maple Plain, Minn., Orono HS) pitched the final four innings in relief, striking out two and walking one while allowing one earned run on two hits en route to his third save of the year.
Central and Cornell continue the league series Sunday with doubleheader action at Mount Vernon. The opener is set for an 11 a.m. start.
“Cornell is going to give us a battle, just like today,” said Stevens. “We’ll come prepared for that; we’re obviously hungry to clinch the outright title.”