2012 Iowa Conference champions
DUBUQUE—It took extra innings, but an outfield assist by senior Andrew O’Toole (Des Moines, Lincoln HS), a squeeze bunt by senior outfielder Jake Effron (Glendale, Ariz., North Pointe Prep HS) and 3.2 innings of scoreless relief by junior pitcher Andy Carr (Rockford, Ill., Lutheran HS) propelled the Central College baseball team to a 3-2 (11 inn.) win over the Univ. of Dubuque in the weekend finale following a 2-1 loss in Sunday’s opener.
“It was a tough day to score runs with the wind howling,” coach Adam Stevens said. “Each game could have gone either way. To come back and win the finale in extra innings after losing the first three games is not easy to do. We battled until the end of that fourth game.”
Trailing the Spartans (7-8 overall, 3-1 conference) 2-1 entering the top of the eighth inning, the Dutch (9-6 overall, 1-3 conference) pieced together a two-out rally with a pair of singles, the second by freshman third baseman Zach Brown (Cedar Rapids, Xavier HS) plated senior shortstop Jordan Judkins (Marshalltown) to tie the game.
In the bottom of the ninth, Dubuque recorded a two-out single and its runner advanced to second on a wild pitch. The next batter singled to right field, but O’Toole threw out the game-winning run at the plate. Freshman catcher Michael Reuter (Monticello), who took over behind the plate in the eighth, applied the tag.
“Andrew made a great play in the outfield and threw a strike to home plate,” Stevens said. “Michael made a great play to get the tag down. It was not an easy play.”
After a scoreless 10th, a leadoff walk came back to haunt the Spartans as pinch runner Spencer Gritsch (sophomore, Brooklyn, BGM HS) advanced to second on a sacrifice and to third on an error before taking off for home and scoring on Effron’s squeeze bunt.
“We had to try something,” said Stevens. “Runs were at a premium today. Neither team was stringing together a lot of hits, so we tried to push a run across. Spencer read the play really well and scored easily.”
Carr picked up the win after a three up, three down inning in the bottom of the 11th.
“Andy entered in a tough situation and threw really well,” said Stevens. “His performance was incredible.”
O’Toole, Brown and senior designated hitter Robbie Rushing (West Des Moines, Valley HS) each tallied two hits.
Freshman starting pitcher Blake Judkins (Marshalltown) hurled 7.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits and one walk with five strikeouts in the no decision.
“Blake was outstanding,” Stevens said. “He threw strikes, competed well and worked his way out of jams. He kept us in the game.”
In the doubleheader opener the Spartans scored two total runs over the first four innings and they held up, as the Dutch were only able to plate one in the fourth.
The two teams mustered only nine hits combined.
“We threatened to score many times in the first game, but we couldn’t get that one hit,” Stevens said. “It came back to bite us.”
Senior starting pitcher Judson McKown (Independence, Minn., Orono HS) was saddled with the loss despite allowing only two runs on five hits and no walks with three strikeouts in the complete-game effort.
“Judson was outstanding on the mound, we played good defense and had good at-bats,” said Stevens. “It was a tough loss.
“We didn’t execute as well as we should have this weekend, but I’m proud of the way we competed in the series finale.”
It’s a short turnaround for the Dutch, who play host to Simpson College (8-5 overall, 2-2 conference) Tuesday. Last season the two teams split the four-game series, as Central took the two games at Indianola and the Storm took two at Pella. Simpson also won both conference tournament meetings.
A video webcast and live stats for Central’s games will be available through www.central.edu/athletics.