Small College Sports

Coe baseball batters Dubuque in American Rivers Conference tournament

Kohawks tally 19 hits in 10-3 victory; Coe's Jacob Burns leads barrage with four hits and five RBIs

CEDAR RAPIDS — Coe baseball has been able to beat opponents in different ways.

The 12th-ranked Kohawks have used pitching and defense to stifle offenses at times. They have relied on their hitters in other instances. This time it was both.

Coe battered Dubuque pitchers for 19 hits, including four from Jacob Burns, in a 10-3 victory over Dubuque in the second round of the American Rivers Conference baseball tournament Thursday at Memorial Stadium. The top-seeded Kohawks (33-3) advance to face No. 2-seed Buena Vista (23-17) in the winners’ bracket final Friday at 1 p.m.

All but one Coe starter had at least one hit and Zach Kammin (9-1) produced a quality start, allowing one run on four hits with nine strikeouts in six innings.

“We definitely swung it well,” Coe Coach Steve Cook said. “We competed right from the get-go and that’s what you want to see.

“We knew we had Zach on the mound and that generally works out pretty well for us. We knew we just needed to get some momentum offensively and support what we count on from pitching and defense.”

Burns helped lead the hit parade. He went 4-for-5 with five RBIs. The senior designated hitter roped a single in the first inning and that boosted his confidence.

“I’ve had some struggles lately, getting out in front, seeing the ball deep and getting in good counts,” Burns said. “It was a first-pitch fastball. I just knew I was seeing the ball well.”

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Burns entered the postseason with a .358 batting average. He is hitting more than 55 points higher than a year ago. He said he’s put in a lot of work this season and he has been reaping the rewards.

“I’m hitting the ball the other way and I didn’t do it as much last year,” Burns said. “This year, I’ve gotten back to it and it’s opened up a lot of possibilities for me.”

Cook said he has been nestled in the middle of the batting order for a reason and it showed in his production against the Spartans (24-14-1). Burns had an RBI single in the fourth to score Riley LeGrand and increase Coe’s lead to 4-1 in the fourth.

Burns added a two-run single in the sixth and a two-run, bases-loaded double in the seventh.

“There are days when he gets in a game and you can tell he’s locked in, feeling good and really on time,” Cook said of Burns. “When that happens, he’s always going to have a shot because he’s a good hitter in our lineup.”

The Kohawks had a balanced attack. Kevin DeLaney, LeGrand and Isaac Evans each had three hits for Coe. T.J. Johnson and Nolan Arp ripped two hits apiece.

DeLaney and LeGrand opened the scoring with consecutive RBI singles for a 2-0 lead in the second. LeGrand also had an RBI single in the sixth and scored three times.

“This is just an extension of how we’ve been playing all year,” Burns said. “I wasn’t surprised at all by the result.”

Dubuque’s Thomas Kempf had three hits and an RBI, while Justin Jensen added a two-run single in the eighth.

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Coe takes on Buena Vista, which edged No. 3 Luther, 1-0, Thursday afternoon. The Beavers’ Nick Henrichs hit a solo home run and Egan Bonde and Gage Smart combined for a four-hit shutout. Cook said the Kohawks need to be ready to play any kind of baseball game and expect a hard-fought battle.

“It’s tournament ball,” Cook said. “You’ve got to be able to find ways to win and be prepared for a tight game.”

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

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