WATERLOO – Grand View University scored six times in the final two innings and Iowa Wesleyan College lost a golden opportunity to be in control of the Midwest Collegiate Conference Baseball Tournament, losing to the Vikings 6-5 Sunday night in Game 6 of the tourney at Riverfront Stadium.
The #1 seeded Tigers gave up three unearned runs with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, failing to take advantage of 16 hits as well as a sterling pitching performance by Evan Cunningham (Sr.-Edinburg, Texas). Instead it will be second-seeded Grand View moving to the championship round of the tourney on Tuesday, while IWC will now have to battle through an elimination game Monday night to get another chance at the Vikings.
Wesleyan dominated for 7 1/2 innings against Grand View but was unable to close the deal against a team the Tigers defeated three times in the regular season by a combined score of 40-20. IWC hammered out 16 hits Sunday night but repeatedly squandered chances to increase the lead, stranding a total of 14 base runners and running into a pair of outs at home plate as well.
Cunningham also was in control on the mound, striking out 13 Viking batters and allowing just three hits over the first seven innings. The senior ran into some trouble in the eighth, allowing three hits and a walk as the Vikings scored three times to make it 5-3. Edgar Hernandez (Sr.-Jalisco, Mexico) came on to get out of a jam, though, and the Tigers held the two-run lead going into the ninth.
Grand View was given life in the ninth on a number of IWC errors. With one out an error allowed Chris Cutler to reach, but he was cut down when Marc Mericle hit a grounder to short that looked to be a game-ending double play ball, only to see Mericle called safe at first base. Two straight soft hits to the outfield loaded the bases, and Brady Wathen followed with a grounder to third base that Dick Bargewell (Sr.-Burlington, Wash.) made a nice play on to stop, but then threw wide of first base. The ball got away from first baseman Lino Sampson (So.-Puerto Ordaz, Venezuela), and three runners came around to score, including the winning run all the way from first base.
The Tigers got to the game against Grand View after holding off St. Ambrose for a 6-5 win earlier in the afternoon. Michael Rosa (Fr.-Santiago, Dominican Republic) had three hits, including a solo home run, and Jansel Encarnacion (Jr.-Azua, Dominican Republic) got the win, throwing seven innings and striking out six.
IWC again was involved in a close one, this time holding off a rally by the sixth-seeded Fighting Bees. The Tigers led 6-3 going into the eighth before Chris Paul hit a two-run home run, and the Bees threatened again in the ninth but Jared Zueck (Sr.-Williamsville, Ill.) made a diving catch to save the game with two out and two runners on.
Derek Zander (Jr.-Colorado Springs, Colo.) got the save in relief, pitching 1 1/3 innings for his second save of the season. Zueck had two hits and scored two runs in the opener. Josh Sturges (Jr.-Murray, Utah) also had a pair of hits and drove in two.
The Tigers will face the winner of Monday’s first elimination game between St. Ambrose and Viterbo (Wis.) University, which will take place at 2 p.m.. IWC’s game against the winner is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start.