MASON CITY — The NIACC baseball team has found a way to win so far this season.
It was no different on Sunday against No. 17 Iowa Central in ICCAC action at Roosevelt Field.
After falling 7-5 in Game 1, Nate Pilacinski hit a walk-off home run in Game 2 to earn a split for the Trojans with a 3-2 victory over the Tritons.
“I stepped in there and was thinking that it might be my day,” said Pilacinski, who deposited the first pitch he saw from Quinn Johnson over the fence in right field. “They have been trying to pitch me inside all weekend. I decided to finally do something about it and took care of it.
“It feels really good. It was a great cap to the weekend.”
As has been the case all season long for the Trojans (18-3, 3-1), it was someone stepping up at the most opportune time, said coach Todd Rima.
“Out of a sophomore leader that’s what you want,” said Rima, whose team won 3 of 4 games this weekend against Iowa Central. “That’s a big-time play right there.
“When a ranked team comes into your place and you beat them three out of four, I think that says a lot about how hard our kids are working.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Pilacinski put NIACC up 2-1 with an RBI single while Tim Black limited Iowa Central’s chances.
Black allowed two runs and scattered six hits before departing after 6- 1/3 inning.
“Our pitching has been great all year, especially Tim,” Pilacinski said. “He kept us in it and put us in a position to win.”
Ean McNeal earned the win in relief for the Trojans, who also received outstanding defensive plays from Pilacinski in the eighth inning and centerfielder Drew Vertstegen throughout the day.
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“I thought Verstegen made some unbelievable plays in center that kind of went unnoticed because he covers so much ground,” Rima said. “Pilacinski’s catch over in foul territory, that’s as good as it gets. That’s a guy that has a lot of courage to go in the corner and get it.”
While NIACC’s defense was strong in the nightcap, it was a different story in the opener as the Trojans committed four errors.
“We just made a few too many mental mistakes in the first game and gave away some runs,” Rima said. “You just can’t do that in conference games.”
Meanwhile, NIACC managed just one hit until the seventh inning before sending seven batters to the plate, scoring three runs.
“We got the tying run to the plate with nobody out starting out down five,” said Rima, whose team hosts Dakota County Tech (Minn.) in a doubleheader on Thursday. “That shows what our team is made of.”
IOWA CENTRAL 7, NIACC 5
Iowa Central 001 400 2 — 7 9 1
NIACC 000 101 3 — 5 5 4
Will Kenny (3K, 6BB), Vinny Crivaro (6) (0K, 1BB, 1HBP), Dalton Cowen (7) (0K, 0BB) and Justin Threlkeld. Joey Reed (0K, 3BB, 1HBP), Corey O’Connor (5) (1K, 2BB), Kyle Moses (7) (0K, 0BB) and Robert Swenson. W — Kenny. L — Reed. SV — Cowen. 2B — Scott Splett (IC) 2, Nick Tillo (N), Jose Perez (N). Multiple hits — Dan Potempa (IC) 2, Splett 2. Multiple RBIs — Splett 2, Perez 2.
NIACC 3, IOWA CENTRAL 2 (8)
Iowa Central 000 100 10 — 2 6 1
NIACC 100 001 01 — 3 7 2
Kole Klocko (5K, 1BB, 1IBB), Quinn Johnson (6) (1K, 0BB) and Taylor Peterson. Tim Black (6K, 1BB), Ean McNeal (7) (0K, 1BB, 2HBP) and Osvaldo Marin, Robert Swenson (7). W — McNeal. L — Johnson HR — Nate Pilacinski (N). 2B — Reynaldo Sala (N), Tyler Peterson (N), Perez. Multiple hits — Winder Fuentes (IC) 2, Threlkeld 2, Peterson 2, Pilacinski 2. Multiple RBIs — Pilacinski 2.