Hit parade: Reivers put on hitting display to eliminate Crowder
All those cold, snowy days in Council Bluffs, Iowa, are paying off for the Iowa Western Community College baseball team.
“When you’re indoors all the time that’s all you have to do in the winter,” Iowa Western coach Marc Rardin said of the Reivers’ hitting prowess. “We traveled down to play Connors State in Oklahoma. We might come back and go inside, but my school gives me the ability to fly to Arizona and go down to play in Oklahoma. We get out and play the competition, but we hit a lot inside.”
The Reivers led the nation in hitting this season, entering the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series with a .398 team batting average. In three games this week, Iowa Western is right on its average, .398, trailing only College of Southern Nevada and State College of Florida.
Wednesday, the Reivers hit .548 as a team, rapping out 17 hits in 31 at-bats in a 13-3 win in six innings over Crowder (Mo.) College to stay alive in the tournament. It was Iowa Western’s second win over the Roughriders.
“We did a nice job bouncing back for the 7:30 game and beating the team we’d already beaten in the tournament,” Rardin said. “I told our guys, ‘Respect the game, don’t worry about your opponent, if they’ve beaten you before or you beat them. Don’t worry about the uniform, go play the game.’ ‘’
A six-run second inning, with 11 men coming to the plate, put Iowa Western (48-13) in control.
Two Crowder errors and two hit batters helped the Reivers’ cause in the inning, but three singles and a double did the most damage.
Anthony Bemboom, the Reivers’ hard-hitting catcher, went 3 for 4 and was only a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. He drove in three runs and scored two, including a solo home run in the fifth. Only left fielder Tanner Moore failed to get a hit for the Reivers, who play College of Southern Nevada at 3 today.
“One thing we can always pride ourselves on is hitting and pitching,” Bemboom said. “You can always do that, inside or outside. Early on we were a little rusty in the field, the first five or 10 games, but we’re right up to speed with everybody else.
“It always helps when you have good defense. It seems like we’re clicking on all cylinders now and we’ll see how far we can go.”
The 7-0 lead allowed Iowa Western starter Nick Hogue plenty of cushion, and he didn’t need much, allowing three runs on eight hits in the complete-game win.
“We got lucky in our two wins,” Rardin said. “Taylor (Eikenberry) not having his best stuff on (Sunday) and Hogue did not have his velocity today. He’s usually around 86, 87 and he was sitting 81, 83 today. He started getting his breaking ball over later on.
“We tried to establish and let our defense help us early with some fastballs and then he started dropping in the breaking ball in the later innings and it gave him the room to be in the game.”
Koby Peebles homered for Crowder (43-32) in the fourth, but the Roughriders could never get anything going against Hogue.
Crowder got the leadoff man on in each of the first three innings, but the ‘Riders only scored him once, in the third, and left runners at second and third that inning.
Peebles led off the fourth with the home run and Crowder picked up one more run in the fifth on an RBI double by Kyle Hardy, who was thrown out trying to stretch it to a triple to end the inning.
“We ran into an out at third base in the fourth or fifth inning, whatever it was,” Crowder coach Travis Lallemand said. “(If) we get Peebles up and drive in a run, some of that momentum might come to our dugout. This is a big game of momentum this late in the season and we were never able to grasp any of that.”
Iowa Western’s Brandon Bass, Bemboom and Spencer Shockley hit back-to-back-to-back singles in the third inning to get three more runs home. After Bemboom hit his second home run of the tournament in the fifth, Jeff Rawlings ended it early with a two-run single up the middle in the sixth.
“It’s always tough after a night loss coming back for a day game after a night loss,” Bemboom said. “We all knew we had to come out swinging and hope our pitching could keep us in it. It worked out today.”