• 2012 Iowa Conference champions
  • 100 wins in past four seasons
  • Six Iowa Conference MVPs
  • Five first-team all-league picks in last two years
  • Five ABCA/Rawlings all-Central Region selection in last two years

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Central clinches postseason berth with another baseball sweep

Baseball | April 25, 2014

DUBUQUE—The Central College baseball team swept Loras College 7-4, 7-3 Friday for its eighth and ninth consecutive wins, clinching an Iowa Conference tournament berth and solidifying itself in third place with only six games remaining on the schedule.

The Dutch (22-11 overall, 14-8 conference) and the Duhawks (16-16 overall, 12-10 conference) entered the day tied for third in the conference. That spot now belongs to Central.

“I liked our approach today,” coach Adam Stevens said. “We hit the ball hard. It was a windy day, but the wind was blowing out and we knew we could score runs.

“We’re playing really well right now.”

The Dutch are two games back of the second-place Wartburg Knights, who visit Pella for the final four-game series of the season May 2-3.

“There are many things we can still accomplish,” Stevens said. “We have to keep doing what we’re doing: pitch it well, play good defense and see where things fall next week.”

Central racked up five runs in the opener’s first inning, which proved to be enough. Shortstop Jordan Judkins (senior, Marshalltown) roped a leadoff triple to left-center field before scoring on a single by right fielder Andrew O’Toole (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS). Designated hitter Robbie Rushing (senior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) was a bit unconventional, touching all four bases on an inside-the-park home run, plating O’Toole. Left fielder Zach Zylstra (Pella, Christian HS) doubled one out later, setting up third baseman Kirby Coppess’ (junior, Urbandale) RBI groundout, scoring first baseman Grant Seuferer (senior, Milo, Southeast Warren HS). Zylstra scored on a throw down to second before the inning ended.

“Loras has a good No. 1 pitcher, but we came out swinging and scored early,” said Stevens. “It’s important to score right away against a good pitcher. He did a good job against us after that first inning, but we were able to get a few runs across.

“That set the tone.”

The Duhawks responded with three in the bottom of the inning, but were held to one run the rest of the way by starting pitcher Judson McKown (senior, Independence, Minn., Orono HS). McKown allowed four runs on nine hits and one walk with three strikeouts over 7.0 innings for the complete-game win.

“We changed the rotation a couple weeks ago and now Judson gets the ball in game one,” said Stevens. “We always have a chance to win when Judson is on the mound. He got out of some jams today, which proved to be the difference.”

Rushing finished 3-for-4 with one home run, two doubles, three RBIs and one run scored. J. Judkins was 3-for-4 with one triple, one double and two runs. O’Toole tallied two RBIs.

Loras’ Will Petrosky also tossed a complete game, allowing seven runs on eight hits and three walks with five strikeouts. Two Duhawks finished with two hits apiece.

In the nightcap, the Dutch scored four runs in the fourth inning and three in the ninth en route to the four-run victory. Loras scored one in the first and two in the eighth, but Central never trailed.

With one out in the fourth, second baseman Adam Ariola (senior, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) drove in Rushing and O’Toole with a double to right-center field. Ariola scored moments later on a passed ball before first baseman Zach Brown (freshman, Cedar Rapids, Xavier HS) capped the scoring with an unearned run.

After the Duhawks cut the lead to one run in the bottom of the eighth, the Dutch rallied for three two-out runs in the ninth to match their first-game run total. Ariola drove in Coppess with a single before scoring along with Rushing on a Zylstra single.

“Adam was a difference maker in game two. He made some great base-running plays, picking up an extra base and scoring on a passed ball.”

Starting pitcher Dakotah Wolken (sophomore, Dillon, East Marshall HS) tossed 7.2 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on eight hits and no walks with four strikeouts to improve to 5-1. Mack Boothe (sophomore, Ames, Gilbert HS) entered the game in the eighth and retired the final four batters, allowing one hit.

“Dakotah was outstanding once again,” said Stevens. “He got out of some jams and Mack came in, got out of one last jam and closed the door in the ninth. Mack has done a great job in the late-inning role. He wants the ball.”

Ariola finished 3-for-5 with one double, three RBIs and two runs scored. Rushing was 3-for-4 with two runs scored, while Zylstra was 2-for-5 with 2 RBIs.

Stevens also noted the defensive efforts of Coppess and Ariola.

The Dutch chased Loras’ starting pitcher Walsh after allowing four runs in 4.0 innings. Battalini tallied three hits, while no other Duhawk recorded a multi-hit game.

The two teams complete the four-game series Saturday beginning at 1 p.m.

Central College