CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Tyler Craig drove in three runs, the pitching staff didn't allow a hit until the fifth and Simpson beat Central 10-6 in the first round of the Iowa Conference baseball tournament on Thursday afternoon.
The fifth-seeded Storm (17-21) won for the sixth time in seven games and advance to play top-seeded Wartburg on Thursday evening in a 7 p.m. start at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Knights (31-9) had a bye in the first round.
Craig went 3-for-6 with a double and Blake Heitmeier went 3-for-3 with a double, sparking the Storm offense to an 8-0 lead after six innings.
Simpson finished with six doubles on the day, tied for the second-most in school history and the most since 2011. In addition to Craig and Heitmeier, Brett Crable, Jake Esdohr, Ethan Hale and Michael Chia all hit two-baggers.
Crable scored three runs on the day, leading a Simpson offense averaging better than 11 runs per game in its last three outings.
While the offense did its thing, Jose Rodriguez and Gage Reis combined to no-hit the fourth-seeded Dutch (20-18) through the first four innings. Central's first hit didn't come until the fifth, when Adam Ariola legged out a bunt single.
Reis (5-3) struck out one and walked one in two innings for the win in relief of Rodriguez, who also threw two hitless innings. Simpson sent six different pitchers to the mound, a predetermined decision by head coach Ben Blake.
Central got on the board with four runs off four hits in the seventh, but back-to-back doubles by Hale and Heitmeier extended Simpson's lead to 10-4. After Central added a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth, Crable came in to pitch, recording the final two outs.