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BVU baseball ends season at IIAC tournament

Kelsey Ackerman, Sports Co-Editor

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The Buena Vista University (BVU) baseball team opened the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) tournament as the third-seed on Thursday, May 11. The Beavers entered the tournament at 24-15 (15-9 IIAC).

“Going into the tournament I really believed that we could win it all,” senior Kolby Hilgenberg said, “We had great pitching and defense all year and our hitting was just starting to reach its stride as a team.”

The Beavers played their first game against sixth-seed Central College. The victory came in exciting fashion as the Beavers took the win 5-4 in 10 innings. After senior Jake Lewis’ starting effort pitching, freshman Gage Smart pitched stellar relief allowing just one hit in his time in, and setting the Beavers up for a walk-off victory in the tenth inning. Junior Devin Wagenman then lead off with a double, and sophomore Payton Renning had the walk-off RBI scoring Wagenman.

Moving into the second game of the day, BVU picked up victory number two of the tournament against second-seed Dubuque 2-0. Senior Jake Hadaway led the way on the mound with his first complete game effort of the season. The two runs came from RBIs by seniors Kendall Candor and Devon Harms.

On Friday, the Beavers moved on to face the top-seeded Wartburg Knights. Heading into the ninth inning, the Beavers trailed Wartburg 9-2, but didn’t give up easily. Their comeback effort came up just short and the Beavers suffered a 9-6 loss. RBIs came from freshman Bryce Rheault, Renning, freshman Ethan McHenry, and three from Wagenman. Junior Keenan Jones was charged with seven of Wartburg’s runs, with only three being earned. Sophomore Egan Bonde and junior Tyler Vorrie both pitched relief.

Saturday the Beavers were defeated by Coe College in their elimination game 5-4. The Beavers had a 4-0 lead after four innings with RBIs from Rheult, Hilgenberg, Wagenman, and Harms. Freshman Tate Holmes was at the mound for the Beavers when Coe came firing with their bats to cut the Beaver lead to just one at 4-3. Senior Dalton Mason went in for relief and Coe took a two-run homerun to take their first lead of the game at 5-4 after the top half of the eighth inning. The Beavers stranded one runner in scoring position in both the final two innings.

“Our expectations were that we were going to play aggressively, but relaxed and I felt the guys lived up to that expectation,” Head Coach Steve Eddie said, “It was the best stretch of four games we have played all season.”

With the end of this season, also comes the end of BVU baseball careers for ten seniors that their coach will miss dearly.

“I will miss the way they developed the team chemistry so quick. From the first day in the fall, they welcomed and led a big group of newcomers and I hope it’s something that will continue forward,” Eddie said.

Not only will the graduating seniors be missed by their coach, but also by their teammates.

“What I will miss most about the graduating seniors is the environment they surrounded our team in,” Rheault said, “The seniors really showed the lower-classmen how to lead for the upcoming years.”

Hilgenberg, along with his other senior teammates, will miss the bonds he created with each other and coaches over the past four years.

“I saw these guys nearly everyday for nine months out of the year for four straight years,” Hilgenberg said, “We’ve made a lot of memories together and knowing our time is down to just two weeks together doesn’t really seem real.”

Heading into the offseason, Coach Eddie already has focuses in his mind for his team to dial in on for future success, along with some much needed time off to start the summer.

“Our pitchers will be working on a long toss program to improve their arm strength, and our position players need to refine their swims with a good off-season hitting program. The fall will be an important time to compete with a large class of incoming freshman,” Eddie said.

The Beavers finished the 2017 season at 26-17 overall, and at third-place in the IIAC.

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BVU baseball ends season at IIAC tournament