2012 Iowa Conference champions
DUBUQUE—More dominant pitching let the first-place Central College baseball team hang around long enough to pull out a split of its Iowa Conference doubleheader at the University of Dubuque Saturday and win its third straight series.
Joel Pulliam (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) suffered a 1-0 defeat, his first of the year, but Central ended a 12-inning scoreless streak with a four-run sixth inning to make reliever Judson McKown (sophomore, Maple Plain, Minn., Orono HS) a 4-1 winner in the nightcap.
The Dutch moved to 19-5 overall and 9-2 in league play. It’s Central’s best record ever through 24 games.
Pulliam (5-1) yielded just two hits, a single and a double, but both were in the second inning and allowed Dubuque to score the game’s only run. Pulliam walked three and struck out six. Central outhit the Spartans 5-2 and had the potential tying and lead runs at second and third base in the seventh inning, but failed to pull off any late theatrics for one of the few times this season. Second baseman Adam Ariola (sophomore, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) had two hits.
“There was good pitching and defense on both sides,” coach Adam Stevens said. “The wind was blowing in and it was really tough to get something going offensively, although we threatened a few times.
“It was a tough loss to take.”
Central’s offensive frustration finally ended in the sixth inning of game two when shortstop Mike Furlong (senior, Davenport, Assumption HS) launched his third home run of the year, a two-run shot to left-center against the wind that gives him a team-high 23 RBIs. Then Ariola and center fielder Sam Stetzel (junior, Perry) each singled and scored. Stetzel raced home on what’s listed as a double-steal attempt that resulted in third baseman Jordan Judkins (sophomore, Marshalltown) being able to draw the throw that allowed Stetzel to score before Judkins was tagged out.
Dirk Lindaman (junior, Ankeny) threw the first 4.2 innings, allowing a run on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts. McKown (4-1) limited the Spartans to one hit and a walk in the final 2.1 innings.
“Once again we really pitched well and played great defense,” Stevens said. “Furlong’s home run was huge. Once he hit that, it relaxed the guys a little bit.
“We feel fortunate to get the split. Dubuque’s a quality team with some outstanding players.”
Central is back on the road Tuesday, traveling to Indianola for a nine-inning game with Simpson College at 6 p.m. The Dutch were 4-3 and 7-2 winners over Simpson at Pella last Tuesday. Simpson took a 12-11 record and a 6-3 conference mark into a Saturday doubleheader at Coe College.
“There are definitely things we’ve got to keep improving on and the guys know that,” Stevens said.