DES MOINES - A traumatic few days for the Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball team ended with a magnificent performance by Sammy Lizarraga at the Class 4A state tournament Wednesday night.
Lizarraga sizzled on the mound with 14 strikeouts and the Cougars made a heart-felt tribute to Bill "Herk" Herkelman with a tense 3-2 victory over Davenport North at Principal Park in Des Moines.
Kennedy (30-11) will face Iowa City West (33-11) in the semifinals Friday night at 7:30.
The emotional week for the Cougars began last Wednesday night with an 18-1 victory over Cedar Falls in the substate finals. Two days later, they learned the horrible news that Herkelman - their beloved 77-year-old assistant coach - had died after suffering a stroke.
All the Cougars attended Herkelman's funeral service on Tuesday, then got on the bus Wednesday and traveled to Des Moines for the state tournament.
"The last week has been like a roller-coaster," said Lizarraga. "It's been an emotional week for all of us. We're on a high right now and we plan on keeping it that way."
Lizarraga tossed a three-hitter with a blazing fastball and sharp breaking ball. He just missed matching the all-time record of 15 strikeouts in a state tournament game, shared by six pitchers.Read more...