PELLA — Closing out its four-game series with Luther College Saturday, the Central College baseball team was not able to put enough good innings together and were swept 6-5, 5-2.
Central (5-11, 3-9 American Rivers Conference) were within striking distance of the Norse (11-5, 7-1 conference) in both contests, trailing by 1 in the final inning of both games.
“We were not that far away from winning this series,” coach Matt Schirm said. “We were just missing big hits all weekend.”
The biggest inning for the Dutch was the sixth in the first game. Down 6-0 entering the bottom of the frame, Central got four tallies. Lucas Farren (senior, right fielder, Yorkville, Ill.) had a two-run blast and second baseman Chris Hensley (Ottumwa) drove in pair of runs with a single up the middle.
Central added another in the seventh and had the tying run on second before getting the final out.
“We got off to a slow start,” Schirm said. “We got outcompeted a little those first few innings and it took us too long to get going. I was proud of the comeback at the end. A lot of teams would have laid down there and we didn’t.”
In game two, Central trailed 3-2 entering the ninth inning before giving up two in the top half the inning. The game-tying run came to the plate in the bottom but Central could not even the score. Shortstop Kyle Hauser (senior, Poplar Grove, Ill., Belvidere North HS) had an RBI double.
The Dutch had solid starting pitching performances in both games. Landon Vander Leest (junior, Pella) went 5.0 innings in the opener giving up five hits and striking out five.Drew Coffman (sophomore, Grinnell) went 5.2 innings in the second game, striking out four and allowing two runs.
“They did everything we needed them to do,” Schirm said. “We just needed to do more offensively.
Central is headed to Mankato, Minnesota next Saturday for games against Bethany Lutheran College (Minn.) and Concordia-Moorhead (Minn.).
“I think the break from our conference schedule will be good for us,” Schirm said. “If we put this effort on the field in our last five series, I’m optimistic about where we’re headed.”