CEDAR RAPIDS — Even though his starting pitcher had gone six innings and had given up just one run, Iowa City West baseball coach Charlie Stumpff knew he was going to put in his closer Friday night.
Replacing senior Nick Spiess with a 4-1 lead to work with in the final inning, Trojans reliever Collins Marine said he knew he was going to have a chance to save a victory after West loss the opener, 6-3.
“I had a pretty good idea I was going in,” Marine said. “ I knew I just had to finish this game and get three quick outs.”
It wasn’t that easy. After a quick first at-bat when Marine struck out Colin O’Connell, the next two Saints batters reached base. Adam Pick drove in Nolan Arp with a single to make it 4-2 with two on.
After Jake Robinson flew out, Marine walked Logan Clarahan to load the bases. Hunter Baldus was presented four balls, and the walk got Xavier within one.
Saints pitcher Nick Drahozal then made contact with Marine’s first offering. With Pick almost to the plate, second baseman Grant Ewing fumbled the grounder but got it to first baseman Declan Doyle for the out and a 4-3 West victory.
“It was a clutch play,” Marine said. “That’s why we practice it. Ground ball off my right side, Grant made the play.”
“He got enough on the throw, and Declan has been practicing scoops a lot this year. We needed that one.”
The split-earning victory came after Xavier took that 6-3 decision in the opener of the Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader.
West got up 2-0 early, but a three-run bottom of the first gave Xavier the lead for good.
“We ended (the nightcap) a little closer than we would have liked it,” Stumpff said.
“That’s where we’re at. We have a lot of confidence in Collins. He’s got a good curveball.
“Better to get out of here splitting games than losing two.”
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