The Duhawks have had their ups-and-downs this season, but have rallied of late to move into second place in the Iowa Conference.
In their last seven games, the Duhawks are 5-2. During that stretch, they went on a three-game winning streak, defeating their cross-town rival Dubuque, 3-0 and 3-2; followed by a 10-7 win over non-conference opponent Dominican.
“It was a good start to the conference season,” said senior pitcher Adam Schwoebel, who pitched a complete game shut-out in game one against Dubuque. “We had a rough early part of the season with some growing pains. We’re extremely young this year, and we kind of knew it was going to take us a little to start playing as one cohesive unit. It’s been a little frustrating working through those problems, but it’s also promising knowing that we haven’t even played our best baseball yet.”
Last weekend, the Duhawks took their winning streak into Decorah, where they faced off against Luther in a pair of double-headers on Friday and Saturday.
In game one, the Duhawks came up short to the Norse, 8-2. After only allowing two runs through the first four innings, Schwoebel allowed six runs in the final two innings and suffered his first loss of the season.
Game two against the Norse went in the direction of the Duhawks, as they responded to the Norse win with a 7-0 victory. Senior Will Petrosky manned the mound for seven innings, striking out four batters on the way to his first win of the year. Petrosky’s impressive pitching was backed by an opportunistic offense that scored seven runs on eight hits and left only four runners on base.
In game three, the Duhawks’ offense was not as impressive, but it only took a single run to top the Norse. In the top of the seventh, sophomore Thomas Johnson came in to pinch hit for the Duhawks, knocking a single into right field that scored fellow sophomore Tony Heiser from third. Pitchers junior Alex Steines and senior Connor Schreck teamed up to shut out the Norse and preserve the 1-0 victory.
In game four, the Duhawks were forced to use four pitchers — all of whom struggled, giving up at least two runs. The Norse’s five-run fourth inning proved to be too much for the Duhawks, as Luther prevailed, 12-2, to tie the series at two.
“It’s important to take care of work against the teams that aren’t Wartburg or Buena Vista,” Schwoebel said. “Even though the conference is going to be decided in those two series, you can really set yourself back if you don’t win the series leading into those games. With the way our offense has played and with our pitchers starting to find their stuff, we were able to make a bit of statement this weekend that will hopefully carry over for the remainder of the conference schedule.”
This weekend, the Duhawks face a tough test in No. 13 Wartburg (23-6, 13-5 IIAC), the current Iowa Conference leader.
“With playing Wartburg this upcoming weekend, I feel that the Luther series taught us exactly what we need to work on,” said junior Nick Petruzzi. “From a pitching aspect, we need to get ahead of hitters. In order to get Wartburg hitters out, we have to make them hit our pitch. Offensively we need to get on base more. Having four hits is not going to win many games.”