Wartburg Stages Remarkable Comeback To Win IIAC Baseball Championship

By Ryan Pleggenkuhle, Reporter

Wartburg's baseball team celebrates their victory over Coe in the championship game against Coe at the 2013 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Baseball Tournament at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Saturday, May 11, 2013. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — An early six run deficit wasn’t the way the Wartburg Knights had envisioned starting the Iowa Conference baseball tournament, but the Knights never doubted themselves Saturday and rallied to defeat Coe, 7-6, at Veterans Memorial Stadium for the title and the league’s automatic berth in the NCAA Division III tournament.

“Down six runs, that was nothing,” said senior relief pitcher Joe Moen. “We scored five runs in one inning against Simpson the other day, so six runs wasn’t that big of a deficit. We knew we could overcome it.”

Coe took its big lead with a six-run second inning on five singles and one Wartburg error.

Following a double steal, Coe’s Tim Hayser hit a shot down the first baseline to score two runs. Two batters later, Michael Redmond singled to center for a run, then Ben Larison and Craig Konrardy followed with RBI singles. A.J. Reuter hit into a fielder’s choice for the 6-0 lead.

Moen took the mound in the third and that ended the scoring for Coe.

“Joe’s been kind of that ‘get out of an inning guy’ for us,” said Wartburg coach Joel Holst. “Joe made them struggle at the plate, our bats came through and we started making some plays defensively.”

Moen allowed just one hit over a stellar seven-inning relief performance.

“There was a lot of pressure when our offense starting scoring runs,” Moen said. “I can’t think of any other time I’ve pitched better in a situation like that.”

Doubles by Joe Grote and Andrew Krehbiel sparked a three-run sixth inning. In the seventh, Levi Montague blasted a triple to deep right center field to score Tony Stenberg, then Jake Raecker and Grote delivered RBI hits to make it 6-6.

Montague’s infield single in the seventh drove in the winning run.

Wartburg last swept both the IIAC regular season and the conference titles in 2008.

Coe advanced to the championship game by defeating Simpson, 6-1, Saturday morning.

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