PELLA, Iowa – Matt Pennings picked up two saves and the Simpson baseball team scored five unearned runs off eight Central errors in a doubleheader sweep on Tuesday, winning game one 4-3 in 11 innings and taking game two, 5-3.
The wins helped the Storm (13-20, 9-15 Iowa Conference) split the season series with the Dutch (17-16, 9-13) and, more importantly, put them in a three-way tie for fifth in the league standings with Central and Luther.
Only conference-champion Wartburg (31-7, 20-4) and Coe (24-12, 17-7) have clinched conference tournament berths, making this weekend's season finale against Dubuque an important one.
Pennings worked a one-hit 11th in game one and allowed only one runner to reach scoring position in the final three innings of game two. The sophomore has three saves in his last four appearances and five on the year, one shy of tying the school record held by Seth Williams (1999) and Jake Zellweger (1996).
Tyler Crandell made Pennings' first save of the day possible by leading off the top of the 11th with a double. He moved to third on a single by Josh Pirtle and scored on a Brett Crable groundout, breaking the 3-3 stalemate that had been in place since the sixth inning.
Simpson got help from the Central defense early in the game. The Dutch committed infield errors on back-to-back at-bats in the third, allowing two runs to score. Blake Heitmeier bunted home Crable for a 3-2 lead in the fifth, made possible by an outfield error which allowed Crable to move up an extra base.
Simpson used a big fifth inning to steal the game two win.
Hale had a two-RBI single and Simpson scored two unearned runs thanks to a pair of Central errors in the fifth, erasing a 3-1 deficit.
Hale finished the game 2-for-4 and Crandell scored twice.
Taylor Neff (2-0) didn't issue a walk in four innings of work and Pennings allowed just two hits in the final three innings.
Simpson closes the regular season with a crucial four-game set against Dubuque this weekend in Indianola. Simpson will recognize its seniors between games on Saturday.