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Baseball - Fri, May. 4, 2012
Tigers bow out of MCC tourney
PEOSTA, IOWA - The Iowa Wesleyan College baseball team made a run in the bracket but fell short of the Midwest Collegiate Conference Tournament title as it was eliminated by Grand View University 7-4 on Thursday at A.J. Spiegel Park.

The Tigers fought off elimination earlier in the day with a 6-5 win over Mount Mercy University to be one of the final two teams standing in the double-elimination tourney. Grand View clinched the tourney title, though, by defeated Wesleyan for the second time in the tourney.

The No. 4 seed entering the MCC tourney, IWC's season ends at 24-31 overall and with a second-place finish in the conference tournament. Grand View (27-27 overall) clinched the MCC's automatic berth to the NAIA Baseball National Championships, defeating Iowa Wesleyan in the tournament's final game for the second time in three years.

The Tigers' second meeting of the tournament against the Vikings went much like its first. Wesleyan jumped out to a lead early in the game but missed numerous opportunities to blow the game open early. IWC's bats then went quiet as the game went on, and the Vikings gradually worked their way back into the game and took the lead.

Dane Carlson hit a solo home run to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning for Grand View and snap a 4-4 tie. The Vikings added a second run in the inning, then added an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth on a bases-loaded fielder's choice.

Iowa Wesleyan started the game off with a flurry, scoring three runs before making a single out. Christian Arredondo (Sr.-Sun Valley, Calif.), Elliot Armstrong (Sr.-Chicago, Ill.) reached on a bunt single and both scored after Michael Mendoza (Sr.-San Gabriel, Calif.) reached on an error as Kyler Morgan couldn't catch a throw to first and the ball rolled down the first base line. Drew Koeppel (Sr.-Bartonville, Ill.) then followed with a double to deep center field, one of his three hits in the game, and IWC had a 3-0 lead. The Tigers had a chance for even more, though, loading the bases with still just one out in the inning, but a strikeout and a soft line out ended the inning.

The end of the first inning would serve as an omen, as the Tigers would strand 12 base runners in the game, often coming up one key hit short. Armstrong reached third with one out in the second but couldn't score, and IWC would strand a runner at second with one out in the third and runners at first and second in the fourth even after Ryan Doeppel (Jr.-Arcadia, Calif.) singled in a run to make the score 4-2. Doeppel again came up in the sixth with runners at first and second and one out and grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and the game ended with runners at second and third and potential tying run Marco Prieto (Sr.-Toa Baja, Puerto Rico) grounding out to shortstop.

Wesleyan reached Game 8 of the tourney against Grand View by winning Game 7 against Mount Mercy in a wild finish. The Tigers capped a bizarre rally with a number of twists and turns by scoring what proved to be the winning run in the top of the ninth inning on a throwing error by MMU pitcher Austin Czerwiec, and then survived the bottom of the ninth as the Mustangs loaded the bases with one out but did not score.

IWC put runners at first and second with nobody out in the ninth but then was victimized by a hidden ball trick. Mount Mercy pitcher Carlo Rivera faked a pick-off throw to second base and both middle infielders dove to the ground as though the ball had been thrown away to center. Arredondo took off for third as Rivera ran between second and third and tagged out Arredondo. Armstrong moved to second on the play, but then was almost tagged out on a second hidden ball trick.

Following an intentional walk, a fielder's choice and two pitching changes, Doeppel came up with two outs and hit a ball back to the mound, but Czerwiec threw the ball away at first, allowing Mendoza to score the lead run. Mount Mercy (28-26 overall) wasn't finished, though, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the ninth against Erik Allen (Sr.-Monrovia, Calif.), who came on in relief after starting Game 3 of the tourney Tuesday night. Salvador Ramos popped up a bunt attempt for the second out, though, and Allen got Sargent to strike out swinging to eliminate the Mustangs and advance Wesleyan to the game against Grand View.

Armstrong had three hits in the first game of the day, and Todd Christensen (Sr.-Redondo Beach, Calif.) added two hits and two RBIs. Josh Kwasny (Jr.-Mokena, Ill.) picked up the win in relief despite walking in the game's tying run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Kwasny relieved Brad Pollock (Jr.-Payette, Idaho), who pitched seven strong innings and allowed six hits and four runs (two earned) while striking out five.