2012 Iowa Conference champions
FORT MYERS, FLA.— Facing loaded bases in the ninth inning with Illinois College’s go-ahead run in scoring position, junior pitcher Judson McKown (Maple Plain, Minn., Orono HS) delivered the game-winning strikeout to capture a 6-5 victory in the season opener Thursday.
Central held a 6-0 advantage until the Illinois College offense came to life with two runs in the seventh. With one out in the ninth, the Blueboys struck for a three-run home run to make it 6-5. McKown entered the game and forced a groundout to second base. Illinois College battled with back-to-back singles and a walk loaded the bases, but McKown ended the game with a strikeout.
“We’re really comfortable with Judson and it’s nice to see him pull a close one out,” coach Adam Stevens said.
McKown earned the save while senior Dirk Lindaman (Ankeny) was credited with the win. Lindaman fanned six batters and walked one in 8.1 innings, allowing nine hits and five earned runs.
“Dirk threw a strong eight innings but kind of tired in the ninth,” Stevens said. “He competed well and was very efficient in the early part of the game. Our defense played well behind him.”
Illinois College (3-5), the Midwest Conference’s preseason favorite to win the south division, racked up 12 hits and left 10 on base.
The Dutch (1-0) plated two runs in the second with designated hitter Andrew O’Toole (junior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) driving in second baseman Adam Ariola (junior, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) on a double before scoring on a lineout. Central added a tally in the fourth and fifth innings each before posting two more runs in the sixth, keyed by an RBI single from center fielder Sam Stetzel (senior, Perry). He later crossed the plate on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Seth Carson (senior, Woodridge, Ill., Downers Grove South HS).
Stetzel went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Ariola was 2-for-4 while third baseman Jordan Judkins (junior, Marshalltown) and shortstop Robbie Rushing (junior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) were both 2-for-3. The Dutch had 11 hits and three stolen bases, but left eight on base.
“We hit the ball hard on the ground, consistently,” Stevens said. “We left some runners on base and probably should have scored a little more, especially early in the game, but we were really aggressive on the base paths and that was a big difference.”
Central faces Heidelberg University (Ohio) Friday at 4 p.m. (ET). The Student Princes are 5-0 and appeared in the 2010 NCAA Division III World Series.
“There were a lot of positives today but we also have a lot to work on and that’s why we’re here,” Stevens said.