WATERLOO - On the brink of elimination, the Iowa Central baseball team stepped up to the challenge with a pair of victories at the NJCAA Div. II Region XI Tournament on Monday at Riverfront Stadium.
After ousting No. 1 seed and second-ranked Des Moines Area by a 9-2 count in game one, the third-seeded Tritons (37-15 overall) then posted a 7-5 triumph over No. 4 seed North Iowa Area, avenging their only previous tournament setback.
Iowa Central and NIACC will now meet again today in the regional finals. First pitch is set for noon.
"We didn't think we played very well against NIACC (Sunday) in the semifinals, but we came out (yesterday) and took it to a DMACC team that had been a thorn in our side (Iowa Central had dropped its previous 10 meetings against DMACC since the start of the 2011-12 campaign)," ICCC head coach Rick Pederson said. "There's no question our kids answered the bell.
"Hopefully, we have another one left in us."
In his first start of the season, Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Luke Vandermaten (9-1) went the distance against the Bears (44-11), scattering just five hits and one earned run. Vandermaten walked two and fanned three, while recording 17 ground ball outs.
IOWA CENTRAL 9, DMACC 2
Iowa Central 013 002 030-9 15 1
DMACC 001 000 100-2 5 1
Luke Vandermaten and Matt Molbury; Tyler Wolfe, Jose Ayala (3), Dominic Reed (6), Dakota Freese (7) and Steve Serratorre.
2B-ICCC: Tyler Peyton, Dawson Porter (2), Andy De Jesus (2); DMACC: Dalton Leuschke.
IOWA CENTRAL 7, NIACC 5
Iowa Central 500 000 011-7 10 3
NIACC 001 210 100-5 9 2
Nolan Webster, Quinn Johnson (6) and Molbury; Nick Veale, Ean McNeal (2), Jeremy Cronk (8) and Robert Swenson.
2B-ICCC: Dalton Parrott; NIACC: Brett Guba.
Defending regional champion DMACC entered postseason play ranked sixth nationally in total runs scored (383) to go along with a .317 team batting average.
"Luke was just phenomenal and completely dominated," said Pederson. "He really carried us and gave us some huge momentum."
Offensively, the Tritons banged out 15 hits, including five for extra bases. Dalton Parrott, Tyler Peyton, Dan Potempa, Matt Molbury, Dawson Porter and Andy De Jesus all delivered a pair of hits.
Parrott also drove in three, while Potempa tallied two RBI. Parrott and De Jesus each crossed the dish twice.
Without skipping a beat, Iowa Central produced 10 more hits in the second contest. Parrott doubled home Connor McLeod with the decisive run in the top of the eighth.
Parrott, Peyton and Potempa all collected two more hits, and Spencer Mallonee knocked in a pair. The Tritons actually built an early 5-0 advantage before the Trojans (25-16) rallied back to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh.
Quinn Johnson (1-0) worked the last four frames in relief of Nolan Webster, allowing three hits and no earned runs. Johnson walked three with two strikeouts.
"Game two was a tight one after we jumped out to a 5-0 lead," Pederson said. "Johnson really held (NIACC) in check to help keep us alive."