The bats came to life in a big way for Buena Vista to open up its three-game weekend series against Wartburg, as the Beavers chalked up six extra-base hits which helped lead to nine unanswered runs, en route to a big 11-5 victory over the Knights to clinch the sixth and final Iowa Conference Tournament berth.
Wartburg scored a run in the first and led 3-1 in the third before BVU took over. Bryce Rheault hit his first career home run on a 2-0 pitch to right centerfield leading off the third to make it a 3-2 contest. Two batters later Devin Wagenman scorched a ball into the same gap in right center before sliding safely into third with his second triple of the year. Coleman Roberts then drove him in and tied things up at 3-3 with an RBI single.
Peyton Renning tripled with one out in the fifth to score Bryce Rheault from first to give the Beavers their first lead of the game. He then scored when Wagneman lifted a single into right to make it a 5-3 lead.
BVU then doubled three times in the seventh inning, including a two-run double by Roberts, that highlighted a five-run frame to break the game open at 10-3. Wagenman, as well as Ryley McGregor, added RBI singles in the inning while Porter Sartor also doubled in one.
Wartburg plated single runs in both the eighth and ninth innings, but it was too-little-too-late.
Rheault and Wagenman each finished with three hits for the Beavers with Rheault also scoring three times. Renning, Roberts and McGregor all added two hits, as all nine starters had at least one hit. As a team, the Beavers pounded out 16 hits and finished with their highest run total since plating 13 in a win over Nebraska Wesleyan on April 2 as well as its highest hit total since chalking up 21 the game before that.
Eric LaRue (2-3) gave BVU exactly what it needed out of its starter. He pitched five innings, allowed three runs on four hits, and was able to work around four walks with five strikeouts. Clayton Christian went three innings and was chaged with a run on three hits. TJ Heineman came in to work the final frame and surrendered a run on two hits.
The Beavers (14-20, 10-11 IIAC) had secured the sixth and final spot into the league tournament before even taking the field due to the Central 10-5 loss at home to Loras earlier in the afternoon. The win by BVU, however, did push the Knights (23-11, 14-6 IIAC) down into second in the league standings, a half game behind the University of Dubuque. The two teams were tied in the loss column, but following the Wartburg loss and the Spartans 17-1 win over Nebraska Wesleyan, Dubuque currently holds the top spot heading into the final day of the regular season.
BVU and Wartburg will close out the series on Saturday afternoon with the doubleheader starting at 1:00pm. It'll also be Senior Day with recognition taking place between games. The team is also supporting a 'Strikeout Hunger' event with all fans encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to the game to be dontated to Upper Des Moines.