MAY 9, 2019
BY: DANA BECKER, The Messenger Sports Reporter
CLINTON — The Iowa Central baseball team has found their groove heading into the Region XI Tournament beginning here Wednesday night.
The Tritons (32-18 overall) won six in a row to close the year, and will hope to carry that momentum over into the postseason.
Iowa Central faces the winner of Iowa Lakes (18-32) and Ellsworth (9-45), who played late after first pitch was pushed back due to rain.
On four different instances this year, the Tritons put together win streaks of at least four games in a row, including a six-game run during the heart of the ICCAC schedule.
Des Moines Area, who received a bye after winning the regular season conference crown, is ranked 19th. Southeastern dropped out of the latest poll and continues to receive votes.
The Tritons finished just two games behind the Bears (37-15) in the conference standings after winning seven of their last 10.
"The teams we face in the tournament are going to show up to play," Iowa Central ace Jayden Maifeld said. "No team in the bracket can be overlooked, because anybody can win on any given day."
Maifeld, a freshman pitcher, is coming off a no-hitter vs. Iowa Lakes. He closed the year with a second conference pitcher of the week honor and is 5-3 with three complete games, 59 strikeouts and a 3.29 earned run average.
"This season has absolutely flown by," Maifeld said. "It seems like just yesterday we were practicing inside, and getting ready to travel south.
"It's been an enjoyable season overall; I've made new friends and it's so fun to play with the team we have. We are definitely going to miss the talented sophomores who will be leaving at the end of the year."
Jarrett Blunt provides another dependable starter for Iowa Central head coach Eric Stein, as the freshman is 6-2 with three complete games, a team-high 60 strikeouts and a 4.66 ERA.
Jason Ferreras has seven saves and is averaging almost 12 strikeouts per nine innings.
At the plate, Devin Porter leads Iowa Central with a .379 batting average, 52 runs batted in, 10 homers, 23 doubles and 11 steals. The sophomore has also drawn 46 walks and struck out just 22 times in 161 at-bats.
Porter is tied for fifth in the country in walks and is one of only 13 players with double-digit homers and steals.
Nathin Mortimer, a freshman, is hitting .362 with 60 RBI, four homers, 11 doubles and 44 runs, with sophomore Alberto Ortiz scoring 60 times with 67 hits, 21 steals and 33 RBI.
Mortimer ranks eighth in the nation in runs driven in.
All games will stream live through the ICCAC website. The regional champion advances to the North Plains District at the Region 13 winner May 18-19.
The NJCAA Div. II World Series is May 25 through June 1 in Enid, Okla. at David Allen Memorial Ballpark.
REGION XI BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
(May 8-13 at Ashford Field, Clinton)
Iowa Lakes vs. Ellsworth, late
Northeast vs. Kirkwood, noon
Southeastern vs. NIACC, 3 p.m.
Iowa Central vs. Iowa Lakes/Ellsworth winner, 6 p.m.
DMACC vs. Northeast/Kirkwood winner, noon
Southeastern/NIACC winner vs. Iowa Central/Iowa Lakes/Ellsworth winner, 3 p.m.
Southeastern/NIACC loser vs. Iowa Central/Iowa Lakes/Ellsworth loser, 6 p.m.