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Thursday, June 30, 2016
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Metro Sports Report

Saints mired in 8-game losing streak

The Xavier softball team did some very good things during its doubleheader against Linn-Mar Tuesday night, but the bottom line unfortunately was the same story for the struggling Saints.

Linn-Mar swept the Mississippi Valley Conference games, 2-1 and 10-5, leaving Xavier with an eight-game losing streak and an unsightly overall record of 7-19.

Maria Steffen pitched a strong game for the Saints in the opener and deserved a better fate, but the Xavier right-fielder lost a fly ball in the sun to give Morgan Braughton a gift triple in the fourth inning and the Lions promptly scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly to snap a 1-1 tie.

The Saints put runners at first and third with one out in the top of the seventh, but Braughton struck out the next two batters to finish a complete game and the victory.

Christina Lincoln and Braughton had two hits for Linn-Mar in the opener.

Cassie Himmelsbach and Olivia Richards socked solo home runs for Xavier in the second game and the score was tied, 5-5, heading into the bottom of the fourth, but the Lions scored two runs in the fourth and added three more runs in the sixth to put the game away.

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Saints flub chance to upset Rams

Growing pains can be a terrible thing for a ballclub that is not accustomed to winning.

For Exhibit A, consider the Xavier baseball team.

The Saints had their chances to upset Dubuque Senior in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at Ken Charipar Field Monday night, but those growing pains got in the way and the Rams grabbed both contests, 7-5 and 4-3.

Dubuque Senior has the best record in the MVC with a 12-1 mark in conference games and Xavier has one of the worst at 1-13, yet the Saints could have won either game.

The little things kept the Saints from winning either affair.

In the opener, the Saints had runners at first and second in the bottom of the seventh when Sam Meyers put down a perfect bunt that should have pushed both runners into scoring position, but the runner at second base forgot there was also a runner at first, broke back toward second and was an easy out on a force play at third.

The Saints did not score in the inning and lost, 7-5.

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Williamsburg takes twinbill from Norway

The Williamsburg Red Sox swept an Iowa Valley League doubleheader from the Norway Bandits Sunday in Norway to square their record at 4-4.

Elsewhere, the Walford Hogs upended Red Top in the second game of their doubleheader in Walford on a one-hitter by Diogenes Ceballos to hand Red Top its first loss of the campaign after seven straight wins.

WILLIAMSBURG 3-12, NORWAY 2-2

In what league officials called an "historic event," the Williamsburg Red Sox swept Norway on the road just three weeks after sweeping Watkins on the road for four victories against traditional IVL powers.

Williamsburg and Norway were tied, 2-2, heading into the top of the ninth inning in the opener. Garrett Saunders and Nolan Arp collected back-to-back doubles for Williamsburg in the ninth and Travis Bowman retired the side in the bottom of the ninth for the 3-2 victory.

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Bell fell in love with baseball again

WATKINS - Cody Bell was a member of the golf team at the University of Northern Iowa for two years, but he missed playing baseball so much that he transferred to Mount Mercy University two years ago and resumed his career on the diamond.

It turned out to be a great move.

Bell enjoyed a sensational season for Mount Mercy this season and he starred again on the mound Sunday for Fairfax in the first game of their Iowa Valley League doubleheader against Watkins.

Bell tossed a complete game and allowed only two earned runs as Fairfax topped the Mudhens, 7-3, on a warm day at Watkins. He allowed seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Watkins captured the second game, 8-2, for its first victory of the season.

Bell compiled an 8-2 record and 1.65 at Mount Mercy this year and was named first team all-conference. He also hit .298 with 18 RBIs for the Mustangs, who finished with a 34-14 record.

Bell, 22, was a multi-sport athlete at Cedar Rapids Kennedy in golf, basketball and baseball, but he wanted to try golf in college and enrolled at Northern Iowa four years ago, leaving baseball behind. His golf career never fully blossomed in college and as time went by he realized he sorely missed playing ball.

Bell decided to transfer to Mount Mercy, where he rejoined several of his former Kennedy teammates like Jimmy Lizarraga, Alex Hayden and Adam Lloyd.

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Hines helps Saints get 1st MVC victory

New Xavier baseball coach Bob Cataldo had never seen Jacob Hines pitch before this season, but he remembered Hines from middle school and decided to put him on the varsity this year as a sophomore.

Smart move.

Hines tossed a complete game Friday night as the Saints trimmed Linn-Mar, 4-2, in the second game of their doubleheader at the Linn-Mar field for their first Mississippi Valley Conference win of the season.

Hines allowed only three hits and kept the ball around the plate all night.

"I used to coach Regis eighth grade basketball and Jacob was one of the kids I coached in eighth grade," Cataldo said. "I knew what kind of competitor he is."

The Saints had dropped 11 straight conference games this season, including a 6-3 loss to Linn-Mar in the first game Friday, but they've showed a lot of improvement the last three weeks and finally got their reward.

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