Luther College Chips

Baseball gets back into the swing of things against Central

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Jared Swanson (‘21) runs around the bases after a hit earlier in the season.

Jared Swanson (‘21) runs around the bases after a hit earlier in the season.

Annika Vande Krol (‘19) I Photo Bureau

Annika Vande Krol (‘19) I Photo Bureau

Jared Swanson (‘21) runs around the bases after a hit earlier in the season.

Dirk Umbanhowar, Staff Writer

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After a two-hour delay, followed by the game being moved to nearby Independence, Iowa due to poor field conditions at Luther, the Norse broke out with 10 runs on 15 hits in a 10-4 win over the Central College Dutch to close out a sweep of the season series.

“It was really good out there to play again, as well as to see the bats come alive,” Head Coach Bryan Nikkel said. “We had hit well early in the season, but then they had gone quiet a bit since the start of conference play. We were simpler in our approach and not trying to do too much, so it was definitely an exciting day.”

The Norse’s 15 hits against Central tied  for the most that they have had in a game so far this season, with shortstop Kelby Johnson (‘20) leading the way at the plate. Johnson had one of his best days of the season at the plate, going three for three with a three-run home run in the sixth inning accounting for his three RBIs on the day. Johnson also scored three times, drew a walk, and stole a base.

“I told myself before each plate appearance, over and over again, I was going to get a hit, and the rest worked itself out,” said Johnson. “I was seeing the ball well. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to help my team win and I’m thankful towards my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me that opportunity.”

Johnson and the rest of the lineup’s strong performance at the plate was backed up by a stellar pitching performance on the mound by starter Joey Cardamon (‘19) who went five and two-thirds innings while only giving one earned run on eight hits and striking out five. After Cardamon’s performance, Cameron Reed (‘21) pitched two scoreless innings. Sean Westendorf (‘18) finished off the game with a scoreless ninth.

Annika Vande Krol ‘19 | Photo Bureau
The baseball team celebrates a run in a game ealier this year.

“I felt like even though it wasn’t my best start of the year, I was able to give the guys to opportunity to go out and win a game,” Cardamon said. “That’s always the goal when I go out there.”

It was another stellar performance by a team that came into the season inexperienced and who almost no one in the rest of the IIAC predicted would have much success. The Norse staff has been lights out almost all season, ranking 14th in the entire nation in terms of staff ERA, 2.82.

“I’ve been really, really impressed with them so far,” Nikkel said. “Coming into the year we graduated over 80 percent of our innings pitched from last year. We got a lot of guys though that have been here for awhile and working hard, and now they’re getting their chance and showing their capability.”

Luther was scheduled to play a three-game series at Wartburg Colleg this past weekend, but was cancelled due to the recent snowstorm. Luther’s next scheduled game is set to take place this Friday against Loras at the Luther baseball field, with a start time scheduled for 3 p.m. Nikkel hopes the sweep of their conference rival, Central, will the give Luther some momentum as the push towards a spot in the IIAC conference tournament.

“The sweep of Central was big,” Nikkel said. “They’re a good team, and a sweep of a quality opponent like that puts us in one heck of a spot. The league is wide open. We’ve made strides in the right momentum and hopefully we continue to do so.”

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