WATERLOO - The Iowa Central baseball squad bowed out of the Region XI Tournament late Saturday night with a 9-8 consolation-round loss to NIACC.
It was the second loss of the weekend for the Tritons (38-19 overall) against the Trojans - an opponent they had beaten three times in four tries during the regular season.
Iowa Central had posted a 6-1 win over Kirkwood earlier on Saturday to stay alive, but the Trojans did just enough to hang on in the rematch and advance.
''We just didn't play very good baseball in three of our four games,'' Triton head coach Rick Pederson said. ''It was incredibly frustrating, because we made mistakes and mental errors we hadn't committed in a long time.
''It wasn't a good weekend for us, and obviously, the timing couldn't have been more difficult to try and overcome that. We battled back the second time around against NIACC, but we were down 7-1 early and it was just too much of a deficit.''
Alex Hayden finished his season with a 9-1 personal record by shutting down the Eagles in the opener.
''Alex was just outstanding,'' Pederson said. ''Dominant. We were really solid in that game, but we weren't able to carry that momentum over into (the second contest).''
Fort Dodge Senior High graduate and University of Iowa recruit Luke Vandermaten worked six innings of relief with 10 strikeouts against the Trojans, as Iowa Central chipped away at the early six-run deficit before bowing out by a single run.
''Our sophomore class as a group, from the time they stepped on the campus until the final out, developed as players about as well as any I've coached,'' Pederson said. ''Taking Luke as an example, he joined our program as a walk-on shortstop. Now he's receiving a Div. I scholarship as a pitcher to the University of Iowa.
''They are tremendous young men and great examples of how much you can grow and progress if you go the junior college route and work hard at getting better every day.''