The 2012 Iowa Conference Baseball Tournament gets underway this Thursday afternoon, May 10, in Cedar Rapids, an event the Buena Vista baseball team (21-17, 13-11 IIAC) has earned a spot in for the fourth straight season. BVU, the #5 seed, will open play at 1:00pm at Daniels Park, on the campus of Coe College, against #4 seed Luther College (22-18, 13-11).
BVU will enter the tournament having won 10 of its final 15 games, including a doubleheader sweep of third-seed Wartburg College on Saturday to wrap up its regular season schedule. The team’s final three conference losses came by just a combined total of four runs.
The Beavers went 1-2 against the Norse during the regular season, winning the opening game of the series, 1-0, before falling 9-6 and 4-0. Luther, who lost to Wartburg on Monday night, comes in riding a three-game losing streak after having won 11 in a row.
The winner of Thursday’s opener will move on to face the tournament’s top seed, Central College (29-9, 19-5 IIAC), on Thursday at 7:00pm, with the loser moving into a Friday elimination game at 10:00am against the loser of #3 Wartburg and #6 Simpson.
As a team, BVU enters postseason play ranked third in the IIAC in batting average at .289, just ahead of Luther, which is fifth at .285. The team’s 217 runs scored this season are also the third-most in the league.
Individually, junior Ryan Scheetz (Omaha, Neb./Millard North) is hitting a team-best .364 on the year, while ranking fifth in the league. He’s also leading the team in hits (51), doubles (9), home runs (4), RBI (29), and has struck out just eight times in 140 at-bats. His 25 runs scored are third-most. Freshman Jesse Munsterman (St. Peter, Minn./St. Peter) is next in average at .324, with Neil Eddie at .314. Sophomore Weston Foxx (Elkhorn, Neb./Elkhorn) and freshman Dillon Plath (Omaha, Neb./Burke) rank second and third in RBI with 22 and 20, respectively, while senior Brock Yossi (Dallas Center, Iowa/Dallas Center-Grimes) leads the way in runs scored (28) and is tops on the team and in the league in stolen bases (17-for-18).
On the mound, BVU posts a team ERA of 4.00. Senior Michael Dirkx (Carroll, Iowa/Carroll) and sophomore Jon Ringblom (Omaha, Neb./Millard North) have each made a team-leading 11 starts and have combined for seven of the team’s 10 complete games. Ringblom has a team-best five wins, with Dirkx at 3-2. The duo has pitched more than 60 innings apiece and has struck out 54 and 53 hitters, respectively. Freshman Ian Grigsby (Gretna, Neb./Gretna) is 2-0 in eight appearances with a 0.98 ERA in nearly 28 innings of work.
James Stone (Des Moines, Iowa/Johnston) is 4-1 with three saves out of the bullpen for the Beavers this season and has a 1.66 ERA in 21.2 innings of work. Opponents are hitting .241 against him, as he has struck out 25 and walked only eight for a staff that is second in the league in strikeouts (270).
BVU is vying to win its second tournament championship in the last three years, while the defending Central Regional Champions are also looking to earn its third straight trip into regional play.
The IIAC tournament runs through Saturday, with the winning team earning the conference’s automatic bid into the NCAA Central Regional Tournament, which starts next Wednesday, May 16.
A complete look at the IIAC Tournament schedule is below:
THURSDAY, MAY 10
G1 -- #5 Buena Vista vs. #4 Luther, 1 p.m. at Daniels Park
G2 -- #6 Simpson vs. #3 Wartburg, 1 p.m. at Vets
G3 -- Game 2 winner vs. #2 Coe, 4 p.m.
G4 -- Game 1 winner vs. #1 Central, 7 p.m.
FRIDAY, MAY 11
G5 -- Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.
G6 -- Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 1 p.m.
G7 -- Game 5 winner vs. lower seeded Game 3/4 loser $, 4 p.m.
G8 -- Game 7 winner vs. higher seeded Game 3/4 loser $, 7 p.m.
SATURDAY, MAY 12
G9 -- Game 8 winner vs. Game 6 loser, 10 a.m.
G10 -- Game 6 winner vs. Game 9 winner, 1 p.m.
G11 -- Game 6 winner vs. Game 9 winner (if necessary), 4 p.m.
$ — If one of the Game 3/4 losers has already had a bye, that team will play in Game 7, regardless of seed
Game 1 at Daniels Park, Oakland Road & H Avenue, Cedar Rapids
All other games at Veterans Memorial Stadium, 950 Rockford Road SW
Winner is IIAC's automatic qualifier to 2011 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship
The tournament webpage can be found here: http://www.iowaconference.com/sports/2011/4/28/BB_2012IIACTournament.aspx
Check out photos of our student-athletes in action in the Beaver sports photo galleries.