WINTER HAVEN, FLA. – A walk-off single by designated hitter Colton DeRocher (sophomore, Sioux City, East HS) drove home the winning run in a 6-5 victory over State University of New York – Polytechnic for the Central College baseball team in its last game in Florida.
Central (9-1) also won the first half of the doubleheader against the Wildcats (2-9) 12-3.
With two outs and Lucas Farren (senior, Yorkville, Ill.) standing on third base, DeRocher took the 0-1 offering and connected for a game-winning single.
“He’s still battling the food poisoning,” coach Casey Klunder said. “But he wanted to give it a shot and he came through with a real clutch hit for us.”
Another strong day at the plate for shortstop Tanner Bigelow (sophomore, Mesa, Ariz., Highland HS) was punctuated by a seventh-inning grand slam in the opener. Catcher Brenden Mudd (junior, Greenwood Village, Colo., Cheery Creek HS) also had two hits in that contest.
“He’s swinging a good bat right now,” Klunder said. “He’s getting good pitches to hit and he knows what to do with them. He’s come through in a bunch of key situations in the second half of our trip.”
Left Pole Logan McCoy (sophomore, Galva, Alta-Aurelia HS) had two hits and two RBI in the second game. Quinn Miller (senior, third baseman, Cedar Rapids, Xavier HS), Chase Martin (freshman, right football, Port St. Lucie, Fla., John Carroll HS) and Tyler Sass (sophomore, center pole, Lincoln, Neb., Southwest HS) chipped in with two hits apiece.
Declan O’Hare (junior, Los Angeles, Calif., Marshall HS) yielded just one earned run on three hits to bag the win in the opener. Sam Staley (junior, Cedar Rapids, Jefferson HS) tossed the final three frames to pick up the save.
“Sam was great in both of his outings this week,” Klunder said. “He’s worked so hard and has come a long way since the fall. We have a young pitching staff overall and he’s done a really great job of being a leader for those guys.”
Relief pitcher Wes Hamor (freshman, Tama, East Marshall HS) held the Wildcats in check for the final two innings of the nightcap and earned the win with DeRocher’s base knock. Landon Vander Leest (senior, Pella) started the game on the mound.
Central used 33 players in its eight varsity games in Florida and several more participated in the two junior varsity games.
“I’m really happy with that we developed some depth on the trip,” Klunder said. “I thought we developed some trust on the trip. Trust between players and trust between players and coaches. I felt like our energy and enthusiasm was wonderful throughout the six days here so we have momentum heading into conference play.”
The American Rivers Conference schedule starts for Central with a three-game home series against Buena Vista University on Friday and Saturday.