2012 Iowa Conference champions
PELLA—The Central College baseball team manufactured a pair of one-run victories for a 2-1, 5-4 sweep of Iowa Conference foe Coe College, separating itself as one of the top four teams in the league standings.
Starting pitcher Judson McKown (senior, Independence, Minn., Orono HS) tossed a complete game for the win in the opener, while the Dutch (18-11 overall, 10-8 conference) used an eighth-inning rally for a come-from-behind victory over the Kohawks (11-17 overall, 7-13 conference) in the nightcap.
“Every conference doubleheader is a battle,” coach Adam Stevens said. “That’s all we know for sure. We had to play really well to win two games today and we’ll have to play really well to win tomorrow.”
Central sits one game back of third-place Loras College (14-11 overall, 11-5 conference) in the wins column and two games back of Buena Vista (23-5 overall, 12-4 conference) and Wartburg (18-10 overall, 12-4 conference). Coe is fifth in league wins, three behind the Dutch.
Central has won five in a row and seven of its last eight, including four by one run.
“It’s hard to look too far ahead,” said Stevens. “Coe will be ready to play tomorrow, so we need to be ready. Our offense needs to get going. We won today with pitching and defense. That’s how teams win in this conference.”
McKown was dealing once again, allowing one run on six hits with one strikeout over 7.0 innings in the opener. He sports a 3-3 record with a sparkling 1.40 earned run average. McKown has allowed only one earned run over his past five outings, spanning 20.0 innings.
“It was Judson’s time,” said Stevens. “He is clearly one of the best pitchers in the league. Our team is very confident when he’s on the mound.”
Central scored one run in the bottom of the third inning after a Coe error opened the door for designated hitter Robbie Rushing (senior, West Des Moines, Valley HS), who reached on a fielder’s choice, scoring catcher Jace Ahrendsen (senior, Clarence, North Cedar HS).
The scoring stalled until the top of the sixth, when the Kohawks pieced together a three-hit inning, plating one.
The Dutch wasted little time responding, as right fielder Andrew O’Toole (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) scored on a single by left fielder Zach Zylstra (Pella, Pella Christian HS) in the bottom half. O’Toole reached base on a full-count walk, stole second and advanced to third as the catcher’s throw sailed into center field.
McKown shut the door with a three up, three down top of the seventh.
Six different Dutch players recorded one hit apiece.
Coe’s AJ Reuter was 2-for-3 with one run scored. Starting pitcher Connor Alberhasky allowed two unearned runs in the complete-game loss.
The storyline in the nightcap was not all that different.
Central trailed for the first time all day after a Coe run in the top of the eighth. But in the bottom half of the inning, second baseman Adam Ariola (senior, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) reached on an error before advancing to third on a double down the line by first baseman Zach Brown (freshman, Cedar Rapids, Xavier HS). Brown caught the third baseman off guard after squaring around to bunt before pulling the bat back and roping a double inside the bag. Ariola scored on a well-executed squeeze bunt by Zylstra, who was safe on the play, before Brown scored on a groundout by Ahrendsen.
“We were trying to get something going,” Stevens said. “We were trying to be aggressive. It was a tough day to score, especially with those pitchers on the mound for Coe. Zach executed very well, as did Zach on the safety squeeze.”
The Dutch were in control through six innings, as starting pitcher Dakotah Wolken (sophomore, Dillon, East Marshall HS) scattered four Coe hits in the first 18 outs. Central scored two runs on a single by Brown in the third and one in the fourth on an Ahrendsen single.
But with one out in the top of the seventh, the Kohawks strung three hits together, capped by a three-run double to the left-center field gap by relief pitcher Jack Hoffman. Relief pitcher Andy Carr (junior, Rockford, Ill., Lutheran HS) escaped without any further damage, as the Kohawks grounded into their third double play of the game.
But the tie didn’t last long, as Coe secured its first lead of the day one inning later on a sacrifice fly by its second game starting pitcher AJ Reuter.
But the Dutch had the final say, scoring two runs for the win. Relief pitcher Mack Boothe (sophomore, Ames, Gilbert HS) closed the door for his first save of the season.
Brown finished 2-for-4 with one double, two RBIs and the game-winning run. Seven different Central players finished with one hit apiece, while five different players crossed home plate. Ahrendsen joined Brown with two RBIs. Carr picked up the win in relief.
Coe’s Michael Goerdt was 2-for-4, while Hoffman had three RBIs, but was saddled with the loss in relief.
“We played really well today,” Stevens said. “Pitchers were throwing strikes and we were making plays on the defensive end. But tomorrow is a new day.”
The teams complete the four-game series Saturday. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.