Baseball heats up in cold weather

Duhawks sweep conference rival Wartburg in 3-game series

This past weekend the Loras baseball team took a trip to Waverly, IA, to face off with the Wartburg Knights. Both teams had success early in the season with the Knights entering the series with an overall record of 14-5 (5-0 in conference) and the Duhawks with 13-5 (2-1). Upon entering the series, the major concern for both teams would be how they reacted to the cold weather.

Junior Austin Konagel reacts to a hit in the field.

“I don’t want any excuses, everyone will be playing in the same conditions,” said Coach Carl Tebon. “We need to be the tougher team and play together.”

The Duhawks responded well to Tebon and swept the Knights in all three games.

Beginning in the first game, both teams started slow, as the aces dueled it out for the teams.  After a first inning run for Wartburg, the Duhawks were unable to string together hits to score.  Fortunately, senior captain and starting pitcher Brad Schwind kept the Duhawks in the game.  Schwind threw six innings while striking out seven Knights and keeping the game 1-0.

After his exit, however, the Knights tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning. This gave the Knights a 3-0 lead heading in to the top of the eighth inning. However, two costly errors by the Knights left an opportunity for Junior center-fielder Danny Paluch to single to right field, scoring two runs and tying the game.

With the game tied entering the bottom of the eighth inning, sophomore pitcher Tanner Fallon came into the game. Pitching three scoreless innings, the game entered the top of the 11th inning.

Leading off the inning for the Duhawks was senior 1B/DH Thomas Greffly. “Greff” has been hitting well for the Duhawks with a .340 average, the second highest on the team. His hot bat continued as he smashed a double to left-center.

First-year Luke Fennelly followed the double with a sacrifice bunt moving Greff to third. After junior 2B Austin Konagel walked, junior catcher Cole Thompson beat out groundout allowing Greff to score and giving the Duhawks the lead. Senior pitcher Tyler Tomaka came in relief and closed the game out. Final score 4-3 Duhawks.

Much of a similar story happened in game two of the double header. However, in this game the Duhawks struck first, scoring two runs in the first inning and another in the second. After giving up a run with the bases loaded, the score remained 3-1 in favor of the Duhawks before Junior 3B Richard Bryza came up to bat in the fifth inning. He singled, scoring one run and returning the Duhawks to their three-run lead.

The Knights fought back as they loaded the bases and cut the Duhawk lead to one on a wild pitch. However, in his second relief appearance of the day, Tomaka closed the door on a comeback, pitching 2.2 innings and striking out four Knights. Earning his fifth save of the season and second of the day, Tomaka and the Duhawks beat the Wartburg Knights 4-3 again.

Hoping for the sweep, the Duhawks faced the Knights in game three Sunday. On the mound for the Duhawks was senior pitcher Nick Spiess who entered the game with a 3-0 overall record in four starts this season.

The beginning of the game was fairly uneventful as neither team was able to score. In the top of the third, a two-out rally started for the Duhawks beginning with a single for Thompson.

Next, senior outfielder Danny Weis hit a double, allowing Thompson to score. Following the double, senior 1B Ryan Koester hit a single and Weis scored.

Wartburg battled back tying the game in the bottom of the fourth. In the fifth inning the Duhawks managed to score two more runs while allowing another run making the score 4-3.

The score remained the same as teams battled back-and-forth with each other until the ninth inning. As the snow began to fall, the bats of the Duhawks caught fire. Weis singled and Koester sacrificed himself, moving Weis to second. Junior left-fielder Jake Oglesby hit a double which scored Weis, and Paluch hit a triple off the wall in right field. In the next at-bat, a wild pitch ensued, allowing Paluch to score. Senior Aidan Wojciehowski came in relief getting the final three outs of the game.

The final score was 7-3 earning the Duhawks the sweep.

The Duhawks take on Nebraska Wesleyan this weekend here in Dubuque.

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