INDIANOLA, Iowa – Bud Smith drove in the eventual game-winning run in the sixth and a pair of clutch defensive plays in the ninth helped Simpson hold off Wartburg, 9-8 in game two Sunday afternoon as the Storm split the four-game set with the conference frontrunners.
After splitting Saturday's doubleheader, Wartburg won Sunday's first game 3-1 and threatened to pull ahead in the nightcap before key defensive plays by leftfielder Ethan Kain and pitcher Brock Borgeson closed the door.
Kain made the first out of the ninth when he made up for a dropped fly ball by throwing out the potential game-tying run at the plate. Kain – who entered the game as a defensive replacement in the eighth – dropped a fly ball off the bat of Craig Kerper with no outs and runners on second and third. He stuck with the play and threw a strike to the catcher, Smith, who tagged out pinch-runner Brady Larson.
It was Brogeson's turn next. The sophomore reliever snagged a sharp line drive by Clay Emmrich and alertly doubled up Kerper at first to end the wild series finale.
The game featured 11 errors, including seven by Wartburg. Simpson took advantage by scoring four unearned runs, including the game-winner.
Simpson's at-bat in the sixth was kept alive by a throwing error and Smith drove in a run on an infield single for an 8-6 lead. Nick Anderson drove in the go-ahead run when he bunted to bring in Jake Barr earlier in the frame.
Barr finished 2-for-3 with three runs scored and Anderson had two RBIs to lead the Storm (13-9, 6-6 Iowa Conference).
Borgeson allowed back-to-back singles to start the ninth before picking up his second save of the season. Adam Richman (1-1) earned the win in relief as Simpson sent six pitchers to the mound.
Game one was marred by missed opportunities as Simpson stranded nine base runners in the 3-1 loss.
Joe Grote broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth with an RBI double, spoiling a solid outing by Simpson starter Matt Pennings.
Pennings (3-2) allowed three runs on six hits and struck out five in the complete-game loss, his first in conference play.
DJ Utley homered and Michael Schinstock (3-0) struck out eight in the complete-game win for the Knights (13-9, 7-3).
Jake Scieszinski drove in the only run of the game for Simpson on an RBI single in the third. He and Barr finished with two hits apiece.
Simpson left the bases loaded in the fourth and stranded runners on second in the fifth and seventh.
Next up for the Storm is mid-week doubleheader against Central on Tuesday, April 8 in Indianola. Simpson dropped two to the Dutch (11-8, 3-5) last week. First pitch is set for 3:30 p.m.