Cyclones defeat Wildcats

Justin Kelm takes a swing at a pitch during the club baseball game versus the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater on Sept. 20. Kelm hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to center field to cap off a 2-1 victory over the Wildcats.

With one swing of the bat, the ISU baseball club put the finishing touch on a perfect start to its 2014-15 season.

In the championship game of the Cap Timm Classic tournament Sept. 21, sophomore Justin Kelm hit a walk-off sacrifice fly to center field to cap off a 2-1 victory against University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.

"It was one of the greatest baseball moments of my life," Kelm said. 

In the bottom of the seventh inning, there were runners on second and third with no outs. It was an identical circumstance to what Kelm faced at the plate in the previous inning.

"It was the same situation as the sixth inning," Kelm said. "[In the sixth] He threw me a fastball down the plate. Then, he threw me two curveballs, and I just froze."

After receiving encouragement from his teammates, Kelm had a chance at redemption in the following inning.

"When he came up to the plate [in the seventh], I was still just as confident in him as I was [in the sixth]," said club president Elliott Frey.

Senior infielder Adam Schmidt led off the bottom of the seventh with a double. A walk and a stolen base later, the Cyclones had two runners in scoring position without an out and the game tied at one.

Kelm, who was 0-3 on the day, stepped up to the plate.

He watched two balls go by, saw a fastball split the middle and fouled off two curveballs to bring the count to 2-2.

Then he got his pitch.

"I knew he was going to throw me another strike down the middle, and he did," Kelm said. 

It was all over from there. 

The ball carried into deep center field. Schmidt tagged and scored on the play, the bench cleared and Kelm was mobbed by all of his teammates. 

The victory over UW-Whitewater concluded a perfect tournament for the Cyclones who finished 4-0. 

The club defeated Kansas State 7-2, Whitewater 4-1, Illinois State 7-6 and Whitewater again 2-1, respectively.

It was exactly what the Cyclones, who were playing against other schools in the fall for the first time since the club's formation in 2001, needed to begin the season.

"It didn't feel like it was our first games of the year," Frey said. "It felt like everyone was ready to go."

Iowa State, in its tournament effort, received substantial support from its pitching staff, as three out of four starters pitched complete games.

"Our pitching was phenomenal," Frey said. "And clutch hitting too. Our best players were really hitting the ball this weekend." 

One of those big hitters, club vice president Erik Rasmussen, delivered a walk-off double in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded against Illinois State in the last game of pool play Sunday morning. 

Although the Cyclones had to rely on two game-winning hits in order to finish the tournament undefeated, the excellent start to the season came as no surprise to Frey and the rest of the club.

"My expectation was to go 4-0 and win the tournament," Frey said. "I didn't want to host a tournament for the first time ever here and not win the tournament."

However, what did come as a surprise was the across-the-board production from the entire roster.

"We used everyone on our bench," Frey said. "Every guy that I put in the game did what they were supposed to."

Kelm was in agreement with Frey, alluding to the versatility of the roster.

"We have depth everywhere," Kelm said. "Everyone who we put in the field was going to do big things."

With the addition of incoming players from the fall league, the Cyclones will have the chance to boost their roster even further for the spring season. And with the performance that the team put forth this weekend, the future looks very bright for the ISU baseball club.

"We're looking forward to this spring," Frey said. "When it comes around, we're going to be a darn good team."

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