2012 Iowa Conference champions
SPRINGFIELD, ILL.—Second baseman Adam Ariola (Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS) became the fourth player in school history to pound out five hits in a game Sunday as the Central College baseball team rallied to secure a doubleheader split with Grinnell College, dropping the opener, 12-8 before prevailing 13-6.
Ariola was 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles in the nightcap and 7-for-9 on the day. After stumbling 3-1 in a low-scoring season opener Saturday against Grinnell, the Dutch (1-2) erupted for 30 hits Sunday.
Shortstop Robbie Rushing (senior, West Des Moines, Valley HS) had a pair of home runs, one in each game. Rushing put Central up in the opener with a 2-run shot in the first inning but starter Ryan Dusil (senior, Cedar Rapids, Kennedy HS) was tagged for a run in the bottom of the first and seven runs in the second. He was replaced by Matt Schissel (sophomore, Rock Island, Ill., Alleman HS) in the third inning with James Longo (senior, Ankeny) entering in the fifth inning and Greg Harris (sophomore, Plattsmouth, Neb.) in the sixth.
Rushing had three hits in the game and six on the day in nine at-bats. Andrew O’Toole (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) had a solo homer in the sixth inning.
“We just didn’t play very well in the first game,” coach Adam Stevens said. “We walked too many batters and we struck out too much. We still had a number of chances to win the game, but give Grinnell credit. They are a much improved team.”
Central got a 2-run homer from Jake Effron (senior, Glendale, Ariz., North Pointe Prep HS) in the second inning of the second game, but Grinnell took a 6-5 lead in the fifth.
“That was tough after losing the first two games,” Stevens said. “It would have been easy to give up at that point and say it just wasn’t our weekend. But we came back and competed well. I hope that’s something we can learn from. We have to play each pitch as hard as we can play.”
Central rallied with Rushing’s 3-run homer in the sixth inning and put the game away with a five-run seventh inning. Rushing also pitched the first four innings, with three innings of relief help from Dakota Wolken (sophomore, Dillon, East Marshall HS), who got the win.
Effron had three hits in the game, including a triple to go with his home run.
“We played a lot better,” Stevens said. “We were a lot more aggressive offensively and got back to playing our kind of game.
“We’re definitely not satisfied but I do think we can be a good team.”
The Dutch hit four home runs on the day. While the fences were relatively short and the wind was blowing out, Stevens noted that Central had just three home runs during all of last season.
While not ideal, the weather was a bit warmer than it was Saturday evening and even with the slow start, Stevens said the games will pay dividends.
“We just know a lot more about our team right now,” he said. “We know what we have to work on before spring break. That’s the nice thing about playing these early games.”
The Dutch will escape the seemingly endless Midwestern winter later this week, heading to Arizona for the Tucson Invitational Games. Central plays Friday at 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) against Dordt and at 1:30 p.m. against Bethany Lutheran (Minn.) to start the eight-game trip which concludes March 20.