CENTERVILLE, Iowa — The Muscatine Community College baseball team gave all it had to the end.
MCC fought off Indian Hills to earn a 3-1 win Friday night in 13 innings in a Division I Region XI tournament elimination game that drifted into early Saturday morning, but the Cardinals came up short, 9-1, to Marshalltown in another elimination game Saturday afternoon that not only ended their season but was the final game in the program's history.
In a season unlike any that came before it after Eastern Iowa Community College announced the MCC baseball and softball programs would be eliminated following the season in August, the Cardinals (24-33) finished on their terms.
"Kids knew what was going on," Barb said. "The kids knew it would be a huge, huge upset if we were going to win that tournament. They thought, lets give it our best. And they did."
After losing 11-1 on Friday to eventual tournament champ Iowa Western — who won its 12 straight regional title Sunday afternoon in a winner-take-all game with Marshalltown — stellar pitching ensured the Cardinals would make it to Saturday and wouldn't be the first team eliminated.
Anthony Cosme pitched eight innings of two-hit, one-run baseball while striking out 13 as the Cardinals took a 1-0 lead to the ninth. A wild pitch in the bottom of the inning allowed the Warriors to tie it and send it to extras, but three MCC relievers gave up one hit while striking out seven over five scoreless innings.
"That was the story, our pitching was really good," Barb said.
MCC pounded out 17 hits against Indian Hills, 16 of them singles, but didn't break through until Jonathan Temenak and Kelvin Fabian hit run-scoring singles in the 13th that were the difference.
Against the Tigers, though, the Cardinals didn't have much left in the tank as they committed six errors and saw their season end.
"We just ran out of gas. That was basically it. Guys gave it a good effort," Barb said. "Bottom line was Marshalltown was probably better than us and Iowa Western was."
Ultimately, Barb felt like the season played out about as he expected, particularly given how strong the top of the league was with Iowa Western and the much-improved Marshalltown team.
"I'm not disappointed in the year," Barb said. "We finished about where we probably should have."
While Saturday was the end of the program, it wasn't the last collegiate game for many Cardinals players. Barb said at least 75 percent of the players on this season's roster will continue playing somewhere next year.
It was, however, the final game for Barb and assistant Stan Hunt.
The MCC coach was quick to credit Hunt, who he said was the "backbone of everything" as he took on much of the recruiting effort and helped with a variety of other things despite doing many of those things on his own time and with money out of his own pocket.
Barb won 220 games at MCC in 10 seasons.
"I enjoyed the time I was here. This year was a challenge, for the off-field stuff," he said. "... We won about 200 games, had a couple decent years in there."