2012 Iowa Conference champions
Photos courtesy of Josh Schroeder, Iowa Conference Office
MOUNT VERNON — A 64-year drought came to an end Sunday in Mount Vernon.
The Central College baseball team earned a 5-1, 2-1 doubleheader sweep of Cornell College to secure the program’s first outright Iowa Conference title since 1948 and it’s third overall. The Dutch also shared the league title in 1975 and 2006.
“First off I’m just really happy for our players,” said coach Adam Stevens. “They’ve put a lot of time and effort into this season and in the past seasons. It all paid off this year. They play the game the right way. They play team baseball and are a competitive group.”
With a 1-0 lead after five innings of play in Sunday’s opener and the title-clinching victory in sight, Central surged to a three-run effort in the sixth.
“We really did a good job early of working the counts,” said Stevens. “We took advantage late in the game and broke it open.”
Centerfielder Sam Stetzel (junior, Perry) and left fielder Michael Jontz (junior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) each singled to put runners on first and second. Both advanced on a Cornell balk. Designated hitter Andrew O’Toole (Des Moines, Lincoln HS) then fired off a single of his own to bring Stetzel home. After first baseman Seth Carson (Woodridge, Ill., Downers Grove South HS) reached on an RBI fielder’s choice, second baseman Adam Ariola (sophomore, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) sent an RBI double down the left field line to round out the offensive output.
The Dutch added a security run in the seventh and Cornell (8-25, 5-15 conference) mustered a two-out homerun in the bottom of the inning before the final out secured the league crown for Central.
Stetzel was 3-for-4 in the opener with one RBI and one run scored as the Dutch amassed eight hits as a team, eclipsing Cornell’s six.
Ryan Goetzinger (junior, Mason City) did five innings of work as the starting pitcher, scattering five hits and striking out three batters. He improves to 3-4 on the season. Mike Werkheiser (senior, Stockton, Ill.) threw the final two innings.
Central harnessed the game-one momentum to take an early lead in the low-scoring nightcap, grabbing a one run lead in the first inning. Three Ram errors in the fourth helped Central bring in a second run. Cornell got on the board in the sixth, but Central’s defense held on for the victory.
Junior Dirk Lindaman (Ankeny) pitched a seven-inning complete game, allowing one earned run on four hits while striking out four and walking one.
“We celebrated after the first win, but then we had to get up and play again in the wind and rain,” said Stevens. “Dirk was great on the mound. He’s just a strong competitor and we like having him going for us in a situation like that.”
The nightcap win gives Central it’s school-record 28th of the season, surpassing the previous mark of 27 set in 2010. The Dutch are 28-9 overall with an 18-5 league mark.
“It was a great weekend,” said Stevens. “We’re happy to bring the trophy back to Pella. We’ll savor it for now, but we’ve got an important couple of weeks coming up and there is more we’d like to accomplish.”
Central hosts Buena Vista Wednesday in its final regular-season conference outing of the year. Game time is 3 p.m. from the A.N. Kuyper Athletics Complex field in Pella.
The Beavers (18-14, 10-8 conference) handed Central two losses in doubleheader action at Storm Lake earlier in April.