CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Ryan Powers drove in the go-ahead run in the bottom of the eighth and Wartburg held off Simpson 8-7 in the Iowa Conference Baseball Tournament on Thursday night at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
The fifth-seeded Storm (17-22) came back from behind on three occasions, the last in the top of the eighth when Tyler Crandell's two-run homer – his first of the season – tied it 7-7.
Simpson will play in an elimination game Friday at 7 p.m. against the winner of game seven, which features Loras against the winner of Central and Beuna Vista.
Crandell finished 2-for-4 with a triple and three RBIs to lead the Storm, who trailed 2-0 after four, 4-2 after six and 7-5 after seven.
Powers went 2-for-3 with three RBIs, Scott Benson (7-1) went eight innings and Michael Schinstock (4) allowed one hit in the ninth to earn the save for the top-seeded Knights (32-9), who play second-seeded Coe on Friday at 1 p.m.
Simpson trailed 4-2 going into the seventh when Blake Heitmeier got plunked by a Benson delivery to lead off the inning. An error on a double-play ball and an infield single loaded the bases for Ethan Hale, who brought in Heitmeier on a fielder's choice.
Hale stole second to put runners at second and third, bringing the infield in and allowing Michael Chia to line a run-scoring single up the middle, tying the game 4-4. The speedy Josh Pirtle beat out another double-play attempt on a ground ball up the middle, allowing Hale to score the go-ahead run.
Wartburg took the lead back in the bottom of the seventh, however, as Blake Wilson capped off a three-run inning on a run-scoring single for a 7-5 lead.
Heitmeier got things started again for Simpson in the eighth, getting hit by a pitch for the second straight at-bat with one out. The switch-hitting Crandell evened things up when he crushed a no-doubt shot over the fence in right field off right-hander Benson, the first home run of the tournament.
Simpson employed a 'pitcher by committee' strategy for the second game in a row. This time around, Matt Pennings (3-5) allowed a run off three hits in the eighth for the loss.