Centerville -- Freshman righthander Wyatt Wendell helped Indian Hills get off to a fast start in its weekend series with Iowa Western, but the Falcons couldn't maintain the momemtum and the Reivers recovered to take the final three games at Pat Daugherty Field. It was the final series of the regular season for the two teams, with Iowa Western coming back to Centerville for the postseason Region XI tourney this weekend.
Wendell ran his record against conference foes to 5-1 in the opener on Saturday. He pitched into the 7th inning before giving way to Nick Marshall, who got the final two outs and saved the 4-3 IHCC victory. Wendell allowed five hits and three earned runs in his 6 1/3 innings of work, walking two and striking out four. Indian Hills tied the score at 1-1 on a Jameson Hart sacrifice fly that plated Nathan Chasey in the 3rd inning. Chasey put IHCC on top with his two-run double the next inning that scored Declan Buckle and Ryo Yamaguchi. The Falcons tallied an all-important insurance run on a Jay Hester single scoring Chasey. Jet Weber was 3-for-3 at the plate for the Falcons and Chasey and Hester each had two hits.
"Wyatt did a wonderful job keeping their hitters off balance," said IHCC coach Matthew Torrez. "He gave us another quality start. It's always a good day when the bottom of your lineup has quality at-bats. I thought we were focused and locked in all game long."
Iowa Western, though, came back to win the final three games of the weekend, taking the second game Saturday, 9-5, then winning 15-1 and 7-4 Sunday.
The Reivers got a split of Saturday's action with their 9-5 win. Weber had two hits, a walk and a stolen base and Matthew Moon a single and a double and an RBI for the Falcons. Zacharie Allard started and took the loss. Torrez said IHCC really hurt themselves with too many free bases and IWCC capitalized on those opportunities.
Indian Hills was held to just three hits in Sunday's opener. Iowa Western had six-run innings in the 2nd and 7th and got grand slams in both frames. Hart's double scored Maddux Hoaglund with IHCC's only run. Weber and Hoaglund had the other hits. Starter Luis Rivera was saddled with the loss. Connor Robbins came on in relief and threw three shutout innings before allowing six runs in the 7th. "Our pitching staff had a tough time getting ahead with first-pitch strikes," the IHCC coach explained, "and we struggled offensively."
Torrez said the Falcons had much better at-bats in the series finale, but, unfortunately it didn't pay off in a win. "We put some pressure on them and if it wasn't for a few mistakes I think the game would have turned out different." he said. IHCC got a first-inning run on a single by Alex Fisher that scored Weber. Fisher and Hart then pulled off a double steal for another run with Hart stealing home. Hoaglund came home on a sac fly by Hart in the 2nd and Yamaguchi tallied the final run on a single by Weber. Chasey was 2-for-3 with a walk, Buckle had a double and walked twice and Hoaglund had a hit and a walk. Omar Vigil, the first of four Indian Hills pitchers, absorbed the loss.
The Falcons will take a 24-23 record into postseason play. They finished 14-10 in the conference. "Now it's time to get focused and ready to play in the tournament," Torrez said.
Indian Hills is the number-two seed and will take on Marshalltown CC on Friday at 2:00, after Iowa Western battles Southwestern to open the tourney. IHCC won five-of-eight regular-season matchups with MCC.