Rushing, Dutch complete four-game series sweep
PELLA—Senior Robbie Rushing (West Des Moines, Valley HS) picked up the victory on the mound in Saturday’s opener before going 4-for-5 at the plate in the series finale, leading the Central College baseball team to 4-2, 13-5 wins over Coe College for the four-game sweep.
The Dutch (20-11 overall, 12-8 conference) are fourth in the league standings and are one of only four teams with more than eight conference wins.
“We felt good about the first three games, but we didn’t let up,” coach Adam Stevens said. “It was nice to see 18 hits. We weren’t struggling offensively, but we hadn’t had a breakout game where we scored a bunch of runs. It was nice to take some pressure off of our pitching staff.
“It was a great way to end the weekend.”
In the opener, Rushing allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk with four strikeouts over 6.0 innings before handing the ball to relief pitcher Mack Boothe (sophomore, Ames, Gilbert HS), who notched his second save in as many days. Rushing improved to 4-0 on the season, allowing only two earned runs over his last 14.0 innings.
“Robbie is having a great senior season,” said Stevens. “He’s doing it on the mound and at the plate. He’s one of the best players in the league at both spots.”
The Kohawks (11-19 overall, 7-15 conference) scored first in the top of the second on a groundout, employing the small ball tactic.
Central responded in the bottom of the third on a double down the left field line by second baseman Adam Ariola (senior, Bloomington, Ill., Normal HS), scoring shortstop Jordan Judkins (senior, Marshalltown).
The Dutch scored two more in the bottom of the fourth and never looked back. Right fielder Andrew O’Toole (senior, Des Moines, Lincoln HS) was hit by a pitch to open the inning before advancing to second on a wild pitch and third on a balk. Left fielder Zach Zylstra (junior, Pella, Christian HS) was behind him on second after walking. Another walk loaded the bases before center fielder Dakotah Wolken (sophomore, Dillon, East Marshall HS) beat out a chopper to second, scoring O’Toole. Coe recorded two outs, the second of which was a groundout by third baseman Kirby Coppess (junior, Urbandale) that scored Zylstra, before escaping without any further damage.
The Kohawks drew within one after a Central error in the top of the fifth, but the Dutch chased the starting pitcher and pushed the lead back to two runs after a bases-loaded walk in the bottom half of the inning.
That’s where the scoring ended.
Ariola finished 3-for-4 with one double, one run batted in and one stolen base, while J. Judkins was 2-for-4 with one run scored. Central finished with nine hits as a team.
Coe’s Thomas Schaedel was 2-for-2 with one run scored, while the rest of the Kohawks managed only two hits combined. Starting pitcher Michael Golinski was saddled with the loss after allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks with four strikeouts over 4.2 innings.
And while the first three games were decided by four runs total, the series finale was all Dutch. Central tagged the Kohawks’ pitching staff for 13 runs on 18 hits, four walks and one hit by pitch. The 13 runs tied for the third most in a game this season, while the 18 hits tied for second. The Dutch scored 17 runs against Crown (Minn.) March 18.
Coe sprinted out to a 4-0 lead, scoring two unearned runs in the top of the first and two more in the top of the 3rd. But Central scored 13 unanswered runs, including five in both the bottom of the fourth and bottom of the sixth.
“It was a tough start to the second game,” said Stevens. “We made a couple errors and Coe hit the ball well and built a lead. But we didn’t let the circumstances of the game bother us.”
Rushing drove in the first run on a single in the third, scoring Wolken.
In the fourth, the Dutch loaded the bases with no outs, but needed a two-out rally to score any. And Central ended up scoring five. O’Toole drove in first baseman Grant Seuferer (Milo, Southeast Warren HS) and Zylstra with a single to left field and advanced to second base on the throw home. Rushing followed suit with a double down the left field line, scoring catcher Jace Ahrendsen (senior, Clarence, North Cedar HS) and O’Toole. Rushing scored on Ariola’s single down the right field line before the inning ended.
Central tacked on two in the fifth on a J. Judkins single up the middle, scoring Zylstra, and a fielder’s choice, scoring Ahrendsen.
And it kept coming in the sixth. Third baseman Zach Brown (freshman, Cedar Rapids, Xavier HS) reached on a leadoff single before scoring on a double to left field by Seuferer. Wolken then laid down a perfectly executed squeeze bunt, reaching first base safely and scoring Seuferer. After a J. Judkins single, O’Toole singled to left field and the ball eluded the left fielder, resulting in two more Dutch runs. Rushing doubled to center field, scoring O’Toole, before the inning ended.
The Kohawks threatened in the top of the seventh, but a 6-4-3 double play slammed the door on the potential rally.
“We did a good job staying out of big innings,” said Stevens. “That’s something we talk about with our pitching and defense. Jordan and Adam were spectacular this weekend up the middle. They turned as many double plays as we have had in a series in a long time. It makes everything better when our defense is good.”
Coe loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth, but was only able to plate one before Central brought in relief pitcher James Longo Jr. (senior, Ankeny) to close the door.
Blake Judkins (freshman, Marshalltown) picked up the win in relief after allowing no runs on two hits and five walks with one strikeout over 3.2 innings. The Dutch used five pitchers in the nine-inning game.
Rushing finished 4-for-5 with three doubles, four RBIs and one run scored. He has 18 doubles on the season. O’Toole was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, while Seuferer, Zylstra, Ahrendsen and Wolken each touched home twice.
“Our seniors are doing an awesome job of leading,” Stevens said. “We’re always ready to play, as evidenced by some of our guys who aren’t playing as much having quality at-bats. We need to continue to improve and have good practices every day.”
Overall, 21 Dutch players saw action in the series finale.
“We have a lot of depth,” said Stevens. “We’ve been playing a bunch of guys, going with the hot hand and playing the matchups. That should bode well for us the rest of this season.”
Four Coe players had two hits apiece, as the team finished with 11 hits total. Colton Janssen had two RBIs. Kyle Brady received the loss after allowing nine runs on 11 hits and one walk with one strikeout over 2.2 relief innings.
The Dutch return to the diamond Friday and Saturday for a four-game league series with Loras College (15-12 overall, 12-6 conference). The Duhawks are third in the conference standings after splitting Saturday’s doubleheader with second-place Wartburg College.