2012 Iowa Conference champions
PELLA — Sophomore Andrew O’Toole (Des Moines, Lincoln HS) didn’t enter the game until the fifth inning but he belted the game-winning hit at the plate as the Central College baseball team defeated Buena Vista University 3-1 Tuesday.
O’Toole came in for left fielder Michael Jontz (junior, West Des Moines, Valley HS), who scored Central’s first run in the fourth inning. Jontz singled and advanced to third on a throwing error in a pickoff attempt. He crossed the plate with a fielder’s choice, but was injured in the action at home.
The Beavers tied the score in the fifth and the Dutch didn’t break through again until the bottom of the eighth. Catcher Max Seeman (junior, Marshalltown) led off with a single to left center and shortstop Mike Furlong (senior, Davenport, Assumption HS) reached with a hit by pitch. O’Toole then punched a single up the middle, driving in both Seeman and Furlong to take the lead.
“We made some things happen in the eighth and O’Toole came in and just had a huge hit,” coach Adam Stevens said.
Senior ace Joel Pulliam (Des Moines, Lincoln HS) coaxed three straight groundouts in the ninth for the win, improving to 8-1. He pitched the complete game and allowed four hits and one earned run. Pulliam walked two and struck out five, becoming Central’s all-time career strikeouts leader with 221. Brett Mahan held the previous mark at 219 (2005-08).
“Joel was great and worked out of some jams for us,” Stevens said. “He struggled a little bit in the middle of the game but we made the decision to leave him in because he’s such a competitor. I knew he was going to find the strike zone and once we scored a couple we knew he’d get the job done. That’s what he’s done his whole career.”
The Dutch avenged last week’s doubleheader loss to the Beavers for the senior day win and improved to 29-9 overall with a 19-5 Iowa Conference mark. Central captured the league title last weekend, its first outright championship since 1948. The Dutch have lost only one of their 13 games at home this year.
“I’m happy our seniors were able to win their last game at home,” Stevens said.
Central travels to Northfield, Minn., Saturday for a non-conference doubleheader against Carleton (Minn.) at 2 p.m. It’s the final tune-up before the league tournament begins May 10.
“It’ll be an important day to get pitchers out throwing and keeping them sharp for the tournament,” Stevens said. “But we’re also playing for a lot of other things and our players know that.”