WATERLOO – The NIACC baseball team is one win away from its first-ever regional title.
NIACC blanked Iowa Central 6-0 Sunday at Riverfront Stadium to advance to Monday’s 3 p.m. Region XI title game against a yet to be determined opponent.
Sophomore right-hander Tim Black (Mount Hope, Ontario, Canada) allowed two hits over eight innings and Jeremy Cronk pitched a scoreless ninth inning as the Trojans became the only unbeaten team in the double-elimination tournament.
NIACC (25-15) plays either DMACC, Ellsworth or Iowa Central in the title game Monday. If NIACC would lose on Monday, a second title game would be played at noon on Tuesday.
In Sunday’s game, Black (4-3) struck out nine and walked two in is eight innings of work. Iowa Central (35-15) did not collect its first hit until leadoff hitter Dalton Parrett singled in the two outs in the sixth inning.
“You can’t say enough about Tim Black,” first-year NIACC coach Travis Hergert said. “He was phenomenal and our kids came up with some clutch hits when we needed them.
“We played good defense. All three phases were phenomenal.”
Black, who is now tied with Tom Heithoff with 103 career strikeouts for first place on NIACC’s all-time strikeout list, said he didn’t have much of a scouting report on Iowa Central.
The NIACC/Iowa Central regular season series was canceled early in the season due to inclement weather.
“I had no idea (about the Tritons),” said Black, who lowered his earned run average to 2.58. “We didn’t play them this year so we didn’t know much about them.
“I still don’t know much about them. That’s a good thing. I don’t want to get too fine with my pitches.”
NIACC plated one run in the first inning, pushed across three runs in the fifth inning and added two more insurance runs in the seventh inning.
In the 3-run fifth inning, the Trojans received an RBI single from Brett Guba and a 2-RBI single from Max Waletich.
Black said the early run support was crucial.
“It was perfect,” he said. “It was awesome. Defense, offense – everything was awesome (Sunday).”
Hergert agreed that his team played a complete game on Sunday to advance to the regional title game.
“We were looking for that one game where we put everything together,” the coach said. “They just battled and battled.”
Especially Black, who says all three of his pitches were working against the Tritons.
“The curve ball was working real nice on the 0-0 counts,” Black said. “Then I was pounding in the fastball and they kind of got themselves out. It was pretty nice.”
NOTE – DMACC and Ellsworth played in an elimination game at 7 p.m. Sunday. The winner of that game plays Iowa Central at noon on Monday. The winner of the noon Monday game plays NIACC at 3 p.m. in the regional title game.
Hergert said freshman right-hander Nick Veale will start Monday’s game. Veale is 6-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 35 1/3 innings pitched with 30 strikeouts and 15 walks.
NIACC 6, Iowa Central 0
NIACC 000 130 200- 6 8 0
Iowa Central 000 000 000 – 0 2 1
Tim Black (9K, 2BB), Jeremy Cronk (7) (0K, 1BB) and Robert Swenson. Will Kenny (5K, 2BB), Vinny Crivaro (5) (4K, 0BB) and Matthew Molbury. W – Black (4-3). L – Kenny (6-3). 2B – Alex Stuart (N), Hunter King (N). 3B – Reynaldo Sala (N). Multiple hits – Brett Guba (N) 2, Max Waletich (N) 2. Multiple RBIs – Waletich 2.