116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — First it was pitching and defense that propelled Coe.
Then, the Kohawks conjured up a high-powered offense that produced 24 runs in 16 innings.
Fifth-seeded Coe ripped 13 hits and tallied double-digit runs for the second straight game, defeating No. 2-seed Loras, 11-3, in the winner’s bracket final of the American Rivers Conference baseball tournament Friday at Memorial Stadium. The Kohawks advance to the conference tournament championship game Saturday at 1 p.m.
“It’s great feeling,” Coe senior T.J. Johnson said. “It’s all about pitching and playing defense and finally we found the bats. They woke up, so everything is rolling our way right now.”
Coe (20-19) finished last in the conference in team batting average and near the bottom in runs scored. The Kohawks actually erupted for more runs Friday than when they scored three total in the full three-game regular-season series against the Duhawks, who won two of three just three weeks ago.
“The ball is starting to get through and we’re starting to roll a little bit,” Coe third baseman Jack Allison said. “We’re pounding the ball, right now. We’re doing a good job all around, Up and down (the lineup). We’re doing our jobs. I think all the guys are hitting the ball really well right now.”
The Kohawks never trailed, building a 6-0 lead with two in the third, a two-out RBI single from Allison in the fourth and a three-run fifth that included an RBI double from Johnson and an RBI single from Creighton Kreshel. The lead was crucial.
“It helps a ton,” Allison said. “We got a lot of confidence. Our pitchers are going. We start making plays in the field, hitting the ball. It ends up working out and we end up winning games because of it.”
Allison led the Kohawks with three hits and reached based four times. Allison and Johnson each had two RBIs and scored twice. Allison’s RBIs both came with two outs.
“In those at-bats, I was just trying to go up the middle and do what I could,” Allison said. “They ended up sneaking through and got some RBIs from it.”
Tyce Johnson provided a quality start and Tyler Riebhoff and Austin Divello combined for 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief. The Kohawk defense turned two inning-ending double plays. But, it was the Kohawk batters who came through clutch.
Six RBIs and seven runs were scored with two outs, including RBI singles from Tyler Elliott and James VanHooser in the ninth. Coe executed a designed steal of home before the third out in the fifth.
“We talked pre-tournament about just scratching across runs, finding ways to win,” Coe Coach Steve Cook said. “Whether it was low-scoring, high-scoring, it didn’t matter at this point. You no longer worry about how pretty something is, you just try to figure out how to get a win.”
Loras rallied in the fifth, stringing together four hits. Luke Fennelly put the Duhawks on the board with an RBI single and Max Cullen added an RBI double, cutting the lead in half.
After a scoreless sixth, Coe rebounded with three in the seventh. Johnson smacked a leadoff triple and scored on a passed ball. Reid Rausch walked and Jacob Brosius was hit by a pitch. They scored on RBI base hits from T.J. Deardorff and Allison, making a six-run advantage again.
“Biggest momentum swing of the game right there,” Cook said. “No doubt about it, because we were starting to feel it a little bit. It happens. They ride that emotion through a game, no matter what you tell them to do. You could feel it a little bit.
“We answered. We didn’t say, ‘here’s the door, it’s open for you.’”
Coe returns to the tournament championship game after losing to Luther in a winner-take-all game last year. The team that emerges from elimination games will have to beat the Kohawks twice. Coe needs one win for its first conference tournament title since 2015 and an automatic NCAA tournament berth.
“We want to win the first game and we’re going to do everything we can,” Johnson said. “Hopefully, the energy carries over to the first game tomorrow.”