CEDAR RAPIDS — For a collection of guys one win from doing something no collection of guys in the history of their school has done, these Dubuque Spartans seem really level headed.
Perhaps that is part of their success.
“You know what, I think we’re all pretty cool, calm and collected,” second baseman Jack Lasswell said Friday afternoon, after his team’s 3-2 winner’s bracket victory over Wartburg at the Iowa Conference baseball tournament. “It’s 10 wins in a row now. We’re one away. But we’ve been keeping it pretty cool.”
Dubuque (23-15) won the IIAC regular-season title for the first time this season and is on the verge of a 2018 double. It is in the championship round, playing at 1 p.m. Saturday against either Wartburg, Coe or Luther.
An ‘if’ game would follow at 4. The tourney winner qualifies for an NCAA Division III regional next week.
“We haven’t talked about much of anything other than just being ready to go,” said Dubuque Coach Paul Wyczawski. “We’ve got a good bunch of guys. They’ll be excited to play tomorrow, and they should be. They’ve earned the right to get this far. We’re looking forward to it.”
Pitching has been a strength for this Dubuque team, and it was again Friday. Starter Doug Van Dyke threw seven good innings to pick up the win, with Nathan Schneidermann closing it out.
The Spartans scored a run in the first inning and added two in the fifth for a 3-1 lead, beating Wartburg’s Benjamin Milewski, who shut them out in the regular season. Lasswell went 3-for-4 with a run scored.
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Wartburg (25-12) had its share of comeback chances, scoring in the seventh but leaving runners at second and third. A pair of errors helped the Knights load the bases in the eighth, but Schneidermann got a flyout to keep his team ahead.
“It was just staying focused,” said Van Dyke, who allowed five hits, walked three and struck out four. “Trying not to overthrow but also trying not to place the ball. Just letting everything happen when it does.”
“Doug came out and really commanded the zone with multiple pitches early in the game,” Wyczawski said. “Worked his way out of a couple of jams. He was terrific today. Offensively, we did a much better job against Milewski than the first time we played.”
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