Hard hitters: Iowa Western pounds Crowder in seven innings
It’s official: Marc Rardin has coached in every position of the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series bracket.
The Iowa Western Community College coach wasn’t sure how to deal with having Saturday off and playing Sunday night, but he obviously figured out something.
The Reivers started hitting on the second pitch of the game and didn’t stop Sunday night, beating Crowder (Mo.) College 12-0 in seven innings.
“I’ve been in every one now,” Rardin said of opening the tournament in Games 1, 2, 3, 4 and now 7. “For our team right now, it’s more excitement than nerves. They were ready to play. We’ve had a week off and we worked the dog out of them here, two-a-days, just to keep them in that game mode. Having five guys in the lineup who are sophomores from last year, it can’t do anything but help.”
Ivan Hartle, one of five starters with JUCO World Series experience, lined the second pitch of the game down the right-field line, banging it off the top of the fence for a home run.
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“The first pitch was a fastball outside and I figured he’d go there again,” Hartle said. “I just got it up in the wind. That’s kind of been us all year. Once we get going, one through nine we have guys who can produce. You can relax knowing you have other guys in the lineup.”
Nine more batters followed him in the first inning, producing four more runs on five more hits, and by the time Taylor Eikenberry took the mound, he had a comfortable five-run lead.
“That’s a big plus, coming out with a five-run lead. It took my jitters away,” said Eikenberry, who threw a two-hit shutout. “I was in the dugout saying, ‘Come on, let’s get a couple of runs.’ I was a little nervous but once we put up five, they went away.”
Crowder had a case of the nerves, committing five errors and could never get anything going against Eikenberry, who stuck with his fastball and let his defense do the work.
“I couldn’t throw my offspeed pitches for a strike,” he said. “I think I threw one curveball for a strike. I couldn’t command my curveball very well but I kept them off balance with it, disrupted their timing and got them to chase some fastballs out of the zone and got them to roll over and hit some fly balls.”
The defense turned a pair of double plays behind him and didn’t let any of the Roughriders get past second base.
“We take a lot of ground balls and that’s something we take pride in,” shortstop Brandon Bass said. “Tonight we just did the job and made plays.”
The Reivers, who have today off (and another two-a-day session planned) picked up three more runs in the second, one in the fifth and got to the 10-run cushion and more in the seventh when Adam Lavelle hit a three-run pinch-hit home run.
“I wasn’t trying to hit it out of the park,” he said. “That’s just the way it works sometimes.
“I was just trying to square the ball up and put it in play and get that 10th run in and put us in line for the win.”
Iowa Western, which has gone 1-6 the past three years at JUCO, hit .398 as a team this season and sure didn’t do anything to hurt that average Sunday with a 14-hit attack, all but three of them singles.
“We’re not hesitant, we’re not tentative at the plate,” Rardin said. “That little lefty (Crowder starter Tim Bado) had put up some good numbers this year and we were aware of it. When we saw balls up in the zone, we knew we couldn’t let them go by. Ivan’s second pitch was a fastball up and he goes with it.
“I feel for (Crowder) because I’ve been there, done that. They’ve got a good club. We were just able to take advantage of some balls up in the zone and some early tightness from them on some plays. At this time of year you’ve got to jump on it. I know, because I’ve been jumped on.”