Jacob Thumann adds to school-record home run total, Wartburg tops Coe in IIAC baseball tournament

Top-seeded Knights stay in winner's bracket with 7-3 victory

Wartburg right fielder Jacob Thumann connects on a pitch during a 2015 Iowa Conference baseball tournament game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Wartburg right fielder Jacob Thumann connects on a pitch during a 2015 Iowa Conference baseball tournament game at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Jacob Thumann has hit more home runs than anyone in Wartburg history.

He didn’t waste any time adding to his record total.

Thumann belted his 31st career home run and 11th this season, driving in three total and powering top-seeded Wartburg to a 7-3 victory over No. 5 Coe in Thursday’s semifinal of the Iowa Conference baseball tournament at Veterans Memorial Stadium.

“He’s very explosive,” Wartburg Coach Joel Holst said. “He swings hard. It’s usually going to go a ways when he makes contact. It was good to get a good start.”

Eric Willis opened with a single and Thumann stepped to the plate with two outs in the first. The Knights’ cleanup hitter belted Jack Greene’s first offering over the left field wall for a 2-0 lead.

“I saw one pitch and I was fortunate enough he hung a breaking ball,” said Thumann, who beat Matt Thede’s old home run mark of 28. “I could tell.

“It’s how they worked me through the whole series in the regular season, so that’s kind of what I was looking for.”

The senior from DeWitt produced again his third time at bat, receiving an intentional walk after the home run. With bases loaded and no place to put him, Thumann came through with a sacrifice fly to score Willis, tying the game at 3-3 in the fifth.

Wartburg (29-12) took advantage of mistakes the next inning. Zach Hovick was hit by a pitch, moved to second on an errant pickoff throw and reached third on a wild pitch. He scored on Mike Brown’s double to right to regain the lead. Willis, who had four hits, drove in Brown with a two-out blooper to center, making it 5-3. Brown added an RBI double and scored in the eighth.

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“We’re a pretty resilient group,” Thumann said. “The energy was never lost in the dugout and that’s what we’ve been talking about throughout the season. If we have that energy in the dugout, we’re never out of the fight. I was really happy with the way we battled.”

Wartburg starter Max Langheinrich improved to 6-1, scattering seven hits over seven innings pitched. Austin Bohling threw two scoreless innings of relief for his second save this year.

Langheinrich struck out seven. He overcame one bad inning and stranded two runners on base in the first, third and seventh.

“He did what we needed,” Holst said. “He went out and pitched like a senior and give us a chance to win.”

The Kohawks’ rally came in the third. Jack Strellner and Thomas Simon walked to start the comeback. Jacob Burns opposite-field hit down the left field line plated Strellner. Simon advanced to third and scored on a wild pitch that bounced to the backstop.

Nolan Arp’s doubled to left, bringing in Burns for a 3-2 lead. Kevin DeLaney had three hits to lead the Kohawks (22-17).

“It was kind of an ugly win, to be honest with you,” said Holst, who saw three base runners picked off by Greene. “We just didn’t do a very good job on the bases. I felt like we had enough hits but we couldn’t come up with the key one. We left bases loaded in the middle part of the game.

“It was a good win. Sometimes you just need to win a little ugly (and) that happens in tournaments, especially early.”

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Coe advanced to the semifinal with a 3-1 victory over No. 4 seed Luther (25-16). The Kohawks trailed 1-0 after the fourth, but battled back, tying it in the sixth on Andrew Brierton’s double that scored Jacob Burns. Coe took the lead the following inning when Jack Strellner singled in Jordan Kaplan.

Ben Jacobson doubled to lead off the ninth, scoring on a wild pitch for insurance.

In other IIAC action, third-seeded Buena Vista (26-15) moved into the winner’s bracket final against Wartburg on Friday, beginning at 1 p.m. The Beavers edged No. 6 Central, 5-4, in 10 innings. Peyton Renning drove in Devin Wagenman for the winning run.

Buena Vista added a 2-0 victory over second-seeded Dubuque (23-18). Jacob Hadaway pitched a five-hit shutout, striking out eight for the Beavers.

“They are a good program and team,” Holst said of Buena Vista. “I’m sure it will be a battle. They’ve been battles for four or five years every time.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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