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Monday, August 29, 2016
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Metro Sports Report

Saints roll into 3A baseball playoffs

The Xavier Saints should be a confident baseball team when they enter the Class 3A district tournament Friday night.

The Saints ended the regular season on another high note Monday with a 7-3 victory over Clinton in a non-conference game at Ken Charipar Field.

The Saints have won nine of their last 11 games after a rugged start, but they'll need all the confidence they can muster in the 3A playoffs.

Xavier (12-22-1) will face DeWitt Central (28-10) in the district opener Friday at approximately 7 p.m. in DeWitt, and waiting in the wings in the district finals is top-ranked Davenport Assumption.

If the Saints handle all that, they could face another tough opponent in the substate finals for a trip to the state tournament.

Xavier collected a methodical victory over Clinton Monday with a 12-hit attack and solid pitching from Adam Tvedt and Sam Meyers. Tvedt struck out eight batters and allowed three runs in five innings for the victory, then Meyers tossed two scoreless frames to finish the game.

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Norway, Watkins split IVL twinbill

WATKINS - The Norway Bandits and Watkins Mudhens split an Iowa Valley League doubleheader in Watkins Saturday night.

Norway won the first game, 6-1, and Watkins rebounded in the nightcap for a 13-5 victory.

Sunday's doubleheaders that were supposed to feature Fairfax at Red Top and Williamsburg at Walford were canceled by rain and wet grounds and will be not be rescheduled.

NORWAY 6-5, WATKINS 1-13

Norway exploded for six runs in the fifth inning of the opener to take control in the 6-1 victory.

Tony Solato drew a walk and Christian Stekl was hit by a pitch to set the table for the Bandits. Ron Benich hit a key double for Norway in the inning and Mitch Walser had a two-run double. Benich and Walser had two hits in the game.

Brady Corson struck out eight batters in six innings for the victory.

Jonny Frese and Luke Hassman had two hits for Watkins in the opener.

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Ecker succeeds Bob Brooks at KMRY sports

Nobody remembers who replaced Lou Gehrig at first base for the New York Yankees after the "Iron Horse" had to retire. And few people probably remember who replaced Cal Ripken for the Baltimore Orioles when his legendary streak came to an end.

Someday, I might be the answer to a trivia question like that: Who succeeded Bob Brooks as the sports director at KMRY after Brooksie passed away following eight decades as a broadcasting legend?

Rick Sellers and Eric Walker, my new bosses at KMRY, have decided to give me a chance as the "new kid" who will deliver the sports in Brooksie's old 10-minute time slots at 4:50 p.m. and 5:50 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 1450 AM and 93.1 FM. I'm excited and somewhat apprehensive about the new assignment, but there are many good people at the station who will help guide me through.

I've been a print and digital journalist all my life, including 27 years at The Gazette and the past 5 1/2 years with the Metro Sports Report, so the thought of sitting behind a microphone and talking for 10 minutes at a time is a little daunting.

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Meyers belts 2 slams for Saints

Sam Meyers had never hit a grand slam in a baseball game before Friday night.

Now he's done it twice.

Meyers belted two slams in the same game Friday as the Saints slaughtered Waterloo West, 24-0, in 3 1/2 innings in the nightcap of their Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at Ken Charipar Field.

The Saints also coasted in the first game, 12-0, in 4 1/2 innings.

Meyers socked his first grand slam in the bottom of the first inning of the nightcap when the Saints scored 15 runs. With such a big early lead, Coach Bob Cataldo began emptying his bench and used a pinch-hitter for Meyers in the second inning.

"I didn't want him to get a big head," the coach joked later.

Cataldo had already decided to give Meyers another chance to hit in the third inning, and sure enough Meyers deposited another grand slam over the fence in left field for two slams and eight RBIs in one game.

Meyers really enjoyed that second trip around the bases, especially when he spotted his teammates gathered at home plate to greet him after his remarkable feat.

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Saints win on Steffen's 4-hitter

VINTON - The girls on the Xavier softball team like to pile into their white school vans for road trips so they can sing, listen to loud music and relax before ballgames.

The formula worked Thursday night when the Saints blanked Vinton-Shellsburg, 3-0, in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A regional tournament in Vinton on a four-hitter by Maria Steffen.

Now comes an even longer trip for the Saints, who will make the two-hour trek to Pella Saturday night to face the Dutch in the regional semifinals. They don't seem fazed a bit.

"It will just be longer for them to be excited and listen to loud music," said Coack Nikki Gahring. "That's what they do.

"They enjoy the van rides. It's kind of their thing. They love being in the van and travelling."

Xavier lost in the regional semifinals in 2013, 2014 and 2015 - all three times on their home field - so Gahring welcomed the opportunity to open the 2016 playoffs on the road.

"I think they were very relaxed being on the road," she said.

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