INDIANOLA, Iowa – The Simpson baseball team split a doubleheader against Wartburg on Saturday, losing 6-4 in game one before winning 8-5 in the nightcap.
Wartburg won the four-game series 3-1, the first conference series of the season for each team.
Game 2: Simpson 8, Wartburg 5 Tyler Craig had four hits and Jose Rodriguez turned in a quality start for the Storm (5-8, 1-3 Iowa Conference), who came away with a much-needed win over the preseason favorites to win the league.
Craig finished 4-for-5 with a two-run homer to lead a productive top of the order for Simpson. Leadoff hitter Jake Barr and No. 2 hitter Tyler Crandell had three hits apiece, Craig hit in the No. 3 spot and Blake Heitmeier had two hits, as the 1-through-4 hitters accounted for 12 of the team's 15 hits.
A majority of those hits came off Wartburg starter Marcus Walczyk. Despite striking out 10 in seven innings, the right-hander gave up six runs, four of which were earned. The biggest blow came when Craig – a left-hander – pulled a hanging breaking pitch over the right field fence in the fourth to give Simpson a 6-2 lead.
Outside of allowing two unearned runs in the second, Rodriguez (1-2) retired Wartburg in order four times in 7 1/3 innings of work. He left after allowing three straight singles in the eighth, but Matt Pennings mitigated the damage. Wartburg managed only one run as Pennings got Levi Montague to ground into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded, giving Simpson a 6-4 lead going into the ninth.
Heitmeier's two-RBI single added insurance runs and Pennings struck out two in the final frame for his first save of the season.
Blake Wilson went 3-for-5 to lead the Knights (13-3, 3-1). Walczyk (2-1) was saddled with the loss.
Game 1: Wartburg 6, Simpson 4
A big first inning and a solid performance from Ryan Doty led to the Wartburg win.
After Simpson scored two runs in the top of the first, Wartburg answered with five in the home half. Doty helped his own cause with an RBI double and Michael Schinstock drove in two as the Knights took a 5-2 lead into the second.
Down 6-4 after six, Barr – who finished with two hits – tripled to lead off the seventh. But Schinstock made a diving play on Crandell's liner to right and Jake Esdorh and Heitmeier went down swinging to end the game.
Doty struck out 10 in the complete-game effort for Wartburg.