Cedar Rapids Jefferson Win 8–5 Against Washington in the Metro Tournament Semifinals
A busy Thursday awaits seniors on the Cedar Rapids Jefferson baseball team. On the same day that they participate in a commencement ceremony, during which they will receive their diplomas, they will also have to play a game. The J-Hawks will play the tournament final, as they get a chance to retain their title at Mount Mercy at 3 p.m. Jefferson, ranked eighth, overcame Cedar Rapids Washington in an 8–5 victory in the semis of the Bob Vrbicek Metro baseball tournament. Their sixth inning consisted of seven runs.
The team’s senior, Chase Keeney, said that baseball takes priority over the ceremony and that the whole team is focused on winning the game. Ozzie Meiborg, another player on the Jefferson roster, claims that the team had three goals for this season and winning the Metro championship is the first one in line.
The semifinals didn’t start off well for Jefferson. They were losing 5–1 after five innings, with the Warriors looking very likely to play in their third consecutive final of the tournament. However, in the sixth inning, they produced a two-out comeback. Thirteen of their batters went on the plate, as they strolled past the Warriors. Players batted with confidence as the J-Hawks’ coach, Terry Schneekloth, expected them to do just that. Schneekloth said that the team always works on barrelling balls up. Sometimes they manage to pull it off and sometimes they don’t, but, the coach adds, when it happens in a streak, the team produces big innings.
How It Happened
They opened the scoring with Willie Guy. Guy scored on a throwing error with a single walk. Consecutively, Keeney also walked, while Drake Frazier chased after Mick McCurry. McCurry, who started the game, allowed only two hits and three base runners throughout the fifth inning.
With Meiborg producing an infield single, the J-Hawks filled the bases with one out. They had six straight batters on base after completing a strikeout. The whole team had a say in this game, as players on the bottom of the order also contributed. Spencer Smith, batter number 7, had a two-run single. After him, Jaxson Kevitt followed up with a two-run double to center. They overturned the score, putting Jefferson into a 6–5 lead. The inning finished with a two-run double for insurance from Keeney. Keeney praised the atmosphere, claiming that the fans were loud enough to help them put points on the board.
After the game, Meiborg added that one thing always leads to another in baseball, irrespective of it being a swinging bunt or a home run. You just keep on pushing, and, according to him, that’s exactly what they did. Meiborg, who was the team’s starting shortstop, started a couple of times during the last season and could see his role on the mound increased. Meiborg said he expected to be called and prepared himself to throw three innings of relief, including two scoreless ones, which brought the win to the J-Hawks.
Coach Praises His Pitcher
Schneekloth praised Meiborg, acknowledging the fact that he kept his confidence and kept putting the ball in the zone. He also contributed with defensive plays, as he made a sliding grab on a botched sacrifice bunt attempt. It was an important play at the time, as Washington could have had their first two batters reach base in the sixth if the play had gone successful. Schneekloth said that not many pitchers can make such a play.
With seven players producing a hit, Isaac Gomez was the leader on the Washington team with two runs batted in. Draedan Spang had a single RBI, while Nemickas produced a run-scoring double in the fifth inning, which had three runs.
Xavier to Face Jefferson
In the other semifinal, Cedar Rapids Xavier continued with their impressive performances. Their offensive dominance produced the first inning with 11 runs. They scored 30 runs in nine innings in the first two games against the defending champion Jefferson.
Kyle Moeder had an early punch, which belted a three-run home with just three batters in the game. Xavier made progress thanks to three errors from Prairie in the opening frame. Moeder also had three hits and four RBIs to lead Xavier, with Derrick Skala, Garrett Riies, and Pat McGinn producing two hits each.
Quinn Schulte and Nick Banowetz came up with two RBIs and three runs, respectively. Isaac Ball also contributed with an RBI. Finally, Xavier earned the win via Bryson Bastian’s throwing three innings.
Prairie had Hunter Whinery and Harrison Cook score a run with two hits each, while Logan Andeway contributed with two RBIs for the Hawks. The Hawks will play a third-place game against Washington.