2012 Iowa Conference champions
PELLA—Starting pitcher Dakotah Wolken (sophomore, Dillon, East Marshall HS) tossed a complete-game shutout and right fielder Andrew O’Toole (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) hit a two-out, two-strike grand slam to propel the Central College baseball team to a split with Iowa Conference foe Luther College Friday.
The Norse (10-14 overall, 4-10 conference) scored four unearned runs in the first inning of the opener and the Dutch (14-11 overall, 6-8 conference) were unable to recover in a 4-1 loss. Central responded in the nightcap, tallying five runs in the seventh inning and holding Luther to four hits in a 10-0, eight-inning win.
“Overall, we played 14 innings of really good baseball today,” coach Adam Stevens said. “But sometimes one inning beats you and that’s what happened. In the second game we did what we needed to do and played a lot better. We found the big hits and executed really well.”
One run would’ve been enough, as Wolken put together an impressive performance on the mound, allowing four hits and two walks while striking out three. Wolken improved to 4-1 on the season and dropped his earned run average to 4.00.
Perhaps the most important play of the game came in Luther’s top half of the sixth inning with Central leading 3-0. After allowing a leadoff single and hitting the next batter, Wolken induced a 4-6-3 double play before recording the third out on a line drive to right field. Second baseman Adam Ariola (senior, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) made a great scoop and pitch to start the play.
“If that ball gets through, it’s a whole different game,” Stevens said. “But Dakotah made a great pitch and Adam and Jordan turned it.”
And the momentum carried over to the bottom of the seventh inning.
Following singles by catcher Jace Ahrendsen (senior, Clarence, North Cedar HS) and shortstop Jordan Judkins (senior, Marshalltown), third baseman Kirby Coppess (junior, Urbandale) laid down a squeeze bunt, scoring Ahrendsen. Later in the inning, after a fielder’s choice and a hit by pitch, O’Toole hit a towering fly ball just inside the left field foul pole. The five runs put the game out of reach before two Dutch runs in the eighth made it official.
“Andrew’s home run was a great piece of hitting,” said Stevens. “He’s been plugging along and hitting well, so it was great to see him break it open.”
O’Toole finished 2-for-4 with one home run, one double, four RBIs and two runs scored. J. Judkins finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, one RBI and one run scored. Coppess, who made two diving plays at the hot corner, was 1-for-2 with two RBIs and one run scored.
“Kirby was outstanding,” said Stevens. “Those plays are as good as you’re going to see at third base. That’s a big deal. It provided a spark that we really needed.”
Luther’s starting pitcher Blake Peterson allowed eight runs on eight hits, four walks and hit three batters while striking out three in 6.2 innings. Andrew Withers gave up the final two runs. No Norse player had more than one hit.
In the opener, Luther scored four unearned runs in the first inning and Central was unable to recover. Starting pitcher Blake Judkins (freshman, Marshalltown) overcame a 35-pitch opening frame to last 6.0 innings, allowing four unearned runs on two hits and four walks with two strikeouts. B. Judkins retired 11 straight batters, fueled by three up, three down innings in the second, third and fourth.
“The first game was frustrating,” Stevens said. “It’s one of the strangest line scores you’re going to see. Luther capitalized on our errors and held on.
“Blake’s a really good pitcher, but we need to help him defensively and we didn’t do a good enough job with our gloves. But Blake came back from that and pitched a good game. It’s something he can build off of individually.”
Relief pitcher James Longo Jr. (senior, Ankeny) recorded the final three outs.
Second baseman Ariola and center fielder Wolken each finished 2-for-3, with Wolken accounting for Central’s run scored. Catcher Ahrendsen drove him in with a double to the left-center gap in the fourth inning, but that’s all the Dutch offense could muster despite outhitting Luther 9-2.
Luther’s Alec Knop tossed a complete game, allowing one run on nine hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Pittman and Pineda accounted for the Norse hits. Larson had one RBI.
“Knop is a great pitcher,” Stevens said. “He’s one of the best pitchers in the conference and great pitchers get out of tough situations. We had good at-bats, but he made some big pitches in big moments.”
The four-game series concludes Saturday with another twin bill. First pitch has been moved up to 11 a.m. due to predicted inclement weather.