2012 Iowa Conference champions
CEDAR RAPIDS—A bases-clearing two-out double pushed Luther College to a 7-6 victory and eliminated the top-seeded Central College baseball team from the Iowa Conference tournament Friday evening.
Central (29-11) saw a five-run lead disappear as the Luther offense came to life. The Dutch were clinging to a 6-4 advantage in the top of the eighth inning with Norse runners on second and third. With two outs, Central intentionally walked heavy hitter Chris Reynolds.
“Reynolds is one of the top hitters in the league and we wanted to create the force-out at any base,” coach Adam Stevens said.
But Kevin Bradley, who blasted a three-run homer in Luther’s first game, roped a double down the right-field line to bring in three runs and take the 7-6 lead.
“Bradley’s hit two doubles all year but he had a huge hit down the line today and that was the difference,” Stevens said.
The Dutch tried to send the game to extra frames in the ninth. Catcher Max Seeman (senior, Panora, Panorama HS) got on base by catcher’s interference and advanced to scoring position on a sacrifice bunt. But Luther enticed two fly outs to end the game and Central’s season.
“This team has a lot of heart and that’s showed throughout the year,” Stevens said. “We’ve won a lot of games like this throughout the season and unfortunately in the tournament it evened out and didn’t go in our favor.”
Central jumped out early, scoring three runs in both the second and third innings.
“We were really going offensively early in the game,” Stevens said. “Then Luther brought their reliever in and they quieted our bats.”
Seeman drove in two runs and had two hits. Second baseman Adam Ariola
(sophomore, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) scored twice and also had two hits.
Luther tallied three errors but outhit the Dutch 13-9. Central had no errors.
Mike Werkheiser (senior, Stockton, Ill.) (2-1) pitched the eighth inning and was charged with the loss. Dirk Lindaman (junior, Ankeny) had the start and allowed four earned runs on 10 hits. He struck out three and walked two.
The loss wraps up a remarkable season. The Dutch captured their first outright league title in 64 years and recorded a school-record 29 wins. The pitching staff set season records for lowest ERA (2.43) and most shutouts (6).
“Today’s loss is disappointing, certainly, but it doesn’t take away from the season,” Stevens said. “These players have done things no other Central teams have done and they’ll have a lot of memories.”
Central graduates seven seniors: Seeman, Werkheiser, shortstop Mike Furlong (Davenport, Assumption HS), pitcher Bret Bell (senior, Jewell, South Hamilton HS), hurler Joel Pulliam (Des Moines, Lincoln HS), catcher Josh Stanton (Homer Glen, Ill., Lockport Township HS) and outfielder Preston Roberts (Bloomfield, Davis County HS). The group compiled a 95-64 record (.597), the most wins of any class.
“They’re just a great group of guys,” Stevens said. “They’re a pleasure to be around on a daily basis and they’re great role models for our younger players. We’ll really miss them and are sad to see them go, but they’ve had a lot of success on the field with great careers and a great senior season.”