Baseball dances around IIAC bid in final games

Over the past weekend, the baseball team hosted a crucial three-game series against the Central Dutch.

As the regular season heads into the homestretch, the Duhawks were sitting in seventh place, needing to move up one spot in the standings to earn a berth in the Iowa Conference Tournament, as only the top six teams advance to the postseason.

Against Central, the Duhawks sent junior pitcher and co-captain Brad Schwind to the mound to hopefully start the weekend on the right foot. Schwind coasted through the first four innings with relative ease.

However, in the fifth he gave up two triples that led to a run for the Dutch. After a quick trip to the mound by pitching coach Nick Kirk, Schwind did something rarely seen: He picked off two runners in one inning — one at first base and another at second base.

photos by Jim Naprstek/Loras College Athletics

The Duhawks aggressive approach at the plate, however, did not translate into runs, and the Duhawks lost the first game, 4-1.

In Game 2 of the series, the Duhawks struck first in the third inning after a walk by senior Nolan Ritter, a well-executed hit-and-run by junior Danny Weis, and a sacrifice fly by senior Luke Leibforth.

However, in the top of the fourth, junior pitcher Nick Speiss surrendered two runs.

Loras came right back in the fifth inning to tie the game. Junior Mike Muto doubled to deep right field and later came in to score on a wild pitch.

The Duhawks and Dutch went back and forth exchanging blows. Central scored three runs in the top of the seventh, but Loras came back in the bottom of the frame to score four runs to take a 6-5 lead. Central tied the score again with a run in the eighth and sent the game into extra innings.

In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Duhawks got the last laugh. Ritter and Weis hit back-to-back singles, giving Leibforth a chance to drive in the winning run. Leibforth came through with a base hit right field that gave the Duhawks a walk-off 7-6 victory.

Much like Game 2, the series finale was a seesaw battle. The Dutch retaliated from losing the second game of the series by scoring four runs in the top half of the first inning. This blow did not seem to faze the Duhawks, however, as they responded with six runs in the second inning.

The Dutch responded in the third by scoring five runs to make the score 9-6. By the fifth inning, the Duhawks scored two runs to trim Central’s lead to 9-8.

However, after a home run by the Dutch and some fielding miscues by the Duhawks, the Dutch pulled away. The Duhawks inched a bit closer and loaded the bases in the seventh inning, but the rally fell short. Central won the decisive game of the series, 13-10.

Coach Carl Tebon was pleased with the way the team battled throughout the series.

“Every game could have went either way,” Tebon said.
The coach noted that the Duhawks have one of the highest batting averages in the conference.

“A lot of our struggles were due to one bad inning,” Tebon continued.

If the Duhawks remove the curse of the one bad inning from their game, Tebon believes his team will be tough to beat. They now need to win most of their remaining nine games and get some help against the teams directly above them in the standings.

The Duhawks then played a doubleheader Wednesday (after the Lorian went to press on Tuesday) against Buena Vista in Storm Lake and will take on the University of Dubuque in a three-game series over two days beginning Friday.

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Patrick Costello is a sports writer for The Lorian.

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