Central rally salvages baseball split
TUCSON, ARIZ.—The Central College baseball team scored six runs in the fifth inning of a come-from-behind 8-5 win in Game 2 to salvage a split with Marian (Wis.) in Wednesday’s Tucson Invitational Games doubleheader.
The Sabres (5-4) topped the Dutch (7-3) 14-7 in Game 1 and jumped out to a 5-0 lead through four innings of Game 2, but Central scored eight unanswered in the fifth and sixth innings for the victory.
“It was a really good win in Game 2,” coach Adam Stevens said. “I was most impressed with how we came back. We had a tough go of it in Game 1 and got down early in Game 2 and it would’ve been easy to say, “It’s just not our day.” But we kept competing despite the score, battled and came back to beat a quality team.”
Trailing by a handful after four innings, the first five Dutch batters reached base in the fifth, beginning with junior outfielder Zach Zylstra’s (Pella, Pella Christian HS) leadoff triple. Sophomore outfielder Dakotah Wolken (Dillon, East Marshall HS) drove him in with an infield single before advancing to third on a single by junior second baseman Kirby Coppess (Urbandale), who promptly stole second. The two scored moments later on a single by senior shortstop Jordan Judkins (Marshalltown). Following a catcher’s interference that allowed senior catcher Jace Ahrendsen (Clarence, North Cedar HS) to reach base, senior outfielder Andrew O’Toole (Des Moines, Lincoln HS) roped a triple to left field to score the two. He would score the sixth and final run on a single by senior first baseman Grant Seuferer (Milo, Southeast Warren HS).
“We had good at-bats all day,” said Stevens. “Marian had good pitching in Game 1 and its starter in Game 2 was on early. But I was confident we would get something going.
“Andrew has hit the ball really well, even though he doesn’t have as much to show for it. He’s hit the ball hard, but right at people. It finally went his way today.”
Senior designated hitter Robbie Rushing (West Des Moines, Valley HS), O’Toole, Zylstra and Coppess recorded two hits apiece. O’Toole finished with three runs batted in, while Coppess scored twice.
Stevens credited freshman pitcher Blake Judkins (Marshalltown), brother of Jordan, for keeping it close in his first collegiate start. Blake allowed five runs on nine hits and four walks with four strikeouts over 5.0 innings for the win.
“It was great to have Blake out there,” Stevens said. “It was important to get him a start before conference play and he responded by keeping Marian from having big innings. That was the difference in the game.”
Senior pitcher Judson McKown (Independence, Minn., Orono HS) did what he does best, getting out of a sixth-inning jam and shutting the door in the seventh for the save. He did not allow a single batter he faced to reach base.
“Judson came in and did what he’s done a lot of times in his career,” said Stevens. “He entered in a tough situation, but rose to the occasion. He’s vital to our team’s success.”
Marian starter Bryce Taylor was tagged with the loss after allowing six runs on eight hits with one strikeout in 4.2 innings pitched. Three Sabres finished with two hits apiece.
In Game 1, the Sabres’ economical offense resulted in 14 runs on only 13 hits, including an eight-run sixth inning to put the game out of reach. The Dutch finished with more hits (15), but only rounded the bases seven times.
Jordan Judkins and Rushing each finished 3-for-4 at the dish, with Judkins tallying a pair of RBIs and runs scored. Freshman first baseman Zach Brown (Cedar Rapids, Xavier HS) and Coppess had two hits apiece.
Senior southpaw Ryan Dusil (Cedar Rapids, Kennedy HS) was tagged with the loss after giving up six runs on six hits and four walks while striking out five in 5.0 innings.
Marian catcher Ryan Blise led the Sabres with a bases-clearing, 3-RBI double in the sixth and finished with two hits and four RBIs. Starting pitcher Sam Forkert allowed five runs on 12 hits and two walks with six strikeouts in 6.0 innings.
The Dutch close out their spring break trip with a 10 a.m. (Pacific Time) contest against Hamline (Minn.) (2-0). Thursday’s game serves as the Tucson Invitational Games opener for the Pipers. It’s Central’s fifth game against a Minnesota school in the past seven days.