The Wartburg baseball team’s (23-20) season ended this weekend at the conference tournament held in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The Knights came into the double-elimination tournament as the No. 3 seed and won their first game against No. 6 seed Simpson, 6-3.
“Scott Benson threw a tremendous first game which supported a great start to the tournament,” head coach Joel Holst said.
The Knights started scoring early in the bottom of the first when Ryan Doty hit a single to center field to allow Andrew Krehbiel to run it in. Krehbiel’s second hit of the day came at the bottom of the second when he singled up the middle which brought in Levi Montague and Jake Raecker.
Simpson responded after that when Tyler Crandell stole second on an error and Michael Chia scored an unearned run. Wartburg was up 4-3 in the bottom of the fifth and extended its lead when Powers scored on a passed ball for an unearned run.
Wartburg didn’t look back after that, not allowing Simpson to score but scoring themselves in the bottom of the seventh when Tony Stenberg scored on a Raecker single to right center. The Knights played again later that day when they faced No. 2 seed Coe, but the result was not the same, losing 10-9.
Wartburg took a 1-0 lead in the second but Coe responded and led 5-1 after seven innings. In the top of the eighth, things got exciting with Wartburg down 5-1. Montague scored off a single by Krehbiel down the right field line.
Then, freshman Matt Kruger scored on a single by Craig Kerper and Blake Wilson singled to right center with Krehbiel scoring. The Knights didn’t stop there getting another run by Kerper to bring the game to a 5-5 tie. Coe retaliated quickly, scoring four more runs in the next at bat with runs from Tyler Leadley, Adam Nisenson, Nick Stein and Sean Raisch.
The Knights continued their scoring, down 9-5 in the ninth, when a single by Krehbiel brought Ryan Doty home. Montague then scored on a single from Stenberg up the middle. Chaz Boots scored on a single from Stenberg and then Krehbiel scored on wild pitch to tie the game at nine.
The Kohawks ended Wartburg’s hopes when Nisenson flied out to center field with no outs to allow Scott DeAngelis to score from third and win the game.
“The second game we had spotty defense, and it’s disappointing to lose a one run game,” coach Holst said about the loss to Coe.
The Kohawks (27-15) went on to win the 2012 IIIAC Tournament and earned the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Knights couldn’t dwell on the close game though as they had to prepare for an elimination game against their rival Luther the next day, a team they had beaten 4-2 in their regular season finale Monday.
It was a much different story Friday though.
“We didn’t show up and Luther took advantage, that’s been the M.O. to the season; inconsistent play,” Holst said.
The Norse led 6-0 after four innings and never looked back, beating the Knights by a score of 11-0. Wartburg managed just six hits in the game, more than half of which came in the fourth inning.
Doty and Powers were some of the only bright spots in the games, both getting two hits apiece.
Even though it was a tough loss there is still optimism with the baseball team heading into next season after wrapping up third place in the conference with a 14-10 IIAC record without a single senior on the roster.
Despite the team’s optimism Holst preached consistent play as the main goal.
“We have Scott Benson and Ryan Doty returning to the mound, and they both gave us opportunities to win games this year,” said Holst. “If you look at our starters I’m hoping that the experience helps us with more consistent play next season.”
TEVIN LIND STAFF WRITER