Sophomore Peyton Renning came through with a walk-off single to lift the Buena Vista baseball team to a thrilling 5-4 victory over Central College to begin Thursday's Iowa Conference Tournament inside of Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids. BVU then turned around and blanked second-seed Dubuque, 2-0, on the strength of a complete-game shutout from senior Jake Hadaway.
Buena Vista struck first in the opener against the Dutch, scoring a run in the third on a Kendall Candor RBI single. After Central responded with three of its own in the fourth, Bryce Rheault and Kolby Hilgenberg each turned in RBI singles in the home half to pull back even at 3-3.
Cam Johnson came through with a clutch RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to again tie things at 4-4. That's the way things stood until the 10th.
Smart was solid in relief, allowing just one hit and walking two over 5.2 innings. He allowed BVU to have the chance for the walk-off, as Devin Wagenman ledoff the home half of the 10th with a double. After attempting a sacrifice bunt early in the at-bat, Renning swung away and lifted a 2-1 pitch into right center to score Wagenman as the team stormed out of the dugout and into a frenzy over by first base.
Rheault led the Beavers at the dish with a 3-for-5 effort. He scored twice and also stole a pair of bases. Wagenman was 2-for-5 and also scored twice. The first four batters in the BVU line-up went a combined 9-for-20 as the team outhit the Dutch, 14-6.
Lewis was charged with all four runs over his 4.1 innings. He allowed five hits and walked five.
Against the Spartans, Hadaway (7-3) was in total control on the mound after escaping a first inning jam. He walked the bases loaded in that first frame before getting a big strikeout to end any further threat. From there, he settled down and found his groove the rest of the way, scattering five hits and striking out eight en route to his first complete game of the year.
Candor singled home a run in the first to give the Beavers a quick 1-0 lead. Devon Harms recorded a sacrifice fly in the fifth for a key insurance runs.
Dubuque's only other threat came in the fourth when the Spartans had runners at the corners and just one out, but Hadaway came through with a strikeout and groundout. He went on to retire 15 of the final 17 batters.
Rheault added two more hits for BVU which matched the Spartans with five total.
BVU head coach Steve Eddie moves within three wins of 400 in his career while his squad sits two wins away from its third tournament championship in the last eight years.
Buena Vista improves to 26-15 overall and will face the winner of top-seed Wartburg and fifth-seed Coe on Friday afternoon at 1:00pm.
The Knights and Kohawks play the final game Thursday night. The Kohawks edged fourth-seed Luther, 3-1, in the tournament's other first round game played at Daniels Park.