Wartburg Clinches Iowa Conference Baseball Title
Wartburg guaranteed a share of the Iowa Conference baseball title by splitting a doubleheader with Coe on Friday (May 6, 2016).
The 15th-ranked Knights (29-9 overall, 22-4 IIAC) won the opening game 14-7. They dropped the nightcap, 3-2. The loss halted Wartburg's 10-game winning streak, but the Knights secured the top-seed in next week's Iowa Conference tournament with their victory in game one.
Wartburg entered the weekend with a two-game lead in the league race. The Knights earned a share of the title with their win, combined with Simpson's walk-off victory over second-place Buena Vista in Indianola.
In the first game, Wartburg jumped to an early 3-0 lead on a two-run home run from junior Jake Thumann (DeWitt), and senior Ryan Kemp (Keokuk) scored on a wild pitch. The Kohawks answered with a solo home run of their own in the top of the second, but the Knights extended their margin in the bottom half by plating four runs on as many hits. Sophomore Blake Mahoney (Des Moines) had a two-run double and Kemp later added a two-run single.
Wartburg took the 11-1 lead in the third, which included a two-run homer from senior Tanner Johnson (Oak Creek, Wis.). Both teams tallied a run in the fourth and Coe added one in the fifth and two in the sixth which made it 12-5. Senior Robbie Anstoetter (Farley) hit a leadoff single in the sixth and the next batter, sophomore Clay Henning (Plymouth, Wis.), brought him in on his home run that cleared the right field fence.
The Kohawks scored their final two runs in the seventh.
Kemp was 4-for-5 with three RBI, while Mahoney was a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBI and four runs scored. Starting pitcher Taylor Gilson (Oelwein) recorded the victory.
In the nightcap, Coe took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double in the fourth inning. Wartburg bounced back for a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning, with senior Milton Croes (Noord, Aruba) scoring on junior Mike Brown's (Bettendorf) base hit to third and sophomore Zach Hovick (Roland) crossing the plate on senior Tyler Willis' (Waverly) single down the right field line.
In the sixth, the Kohawks (16-18, 12-14) regained the lead at 3-2. The Knights looked to answer in the seventh, getting runners at second and third with one out. Coe, however, escaped the threat by retiring the next two Wartburg batters.
The Kohawks nearly broke the game open in the ninth. They had runners on second and third with one out and drew an intentional walk to load the bases. The next two Coe batters, however, popped out and flew out to end the threat.
The Knights opened their half of the ninth with a lead-off walk, but the next three batters went down in order and Wartburg's winning streak came to an end.
UP NEXT: Both teams return to Hertel Field in Waverly at 1 p.m. today for the final regular season doubleheader of the regular season. Wartburg needs one win to secure the Iowa Conference championship outright. The Knights will honor their nine seniors in a ceremony between games.