Sunday, February 17, 2019
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

A collision of opinions over plays at the plate

The collision last week between runner Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins and catcher Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants has generated a nationwide debate over whether to change baseball rules.

Many media outlets have opined about the collision and its ramifications. ABC’s “Good Morning America,’’ somewhat curiously, had a piece on its nightly news last weekend. If you Google “Buster Posey collision,’’ you’ll see 275,000 entries on the Internet.

I suppose safety ought to be of utmost importance in sports, especially in youth and high school sports. But change the rule? Ridiculous.

I speak from experience as a former catcher. Blocking the plate and anticipating a collision with a base runner is part of the game, plain and simple. It’s part of being a catcher and wearing “the tools of ignorance’’ that are face mask, chest protector and shin guards.

Ironically, a week prior to the Posey-Cousins incident, the Iowa High School Athletic Association addressed collisions in a May 17 letter to prep baseball coaches and umpires. The letter stated that malicious contact has been the No. 1 reason for player ejection nationally and, in fact, 26 Iowa high school players were ejected for that reason last season.

The IHSAA defines malicious contact as “leading with the shoulder or forearm with intent to run over the catcher’’ in hopes the catcher will drop the ball. The letter implores coaches to instruct players to make a legal slide at the plate and not try to run over the catcher.


Belmont draws Vandy in regional opener

Belmont University, led by former Cedar Rapids Xavier prep Nate Woods, will play Vanderbilt on Friday in the first round of the NCAA regional baseball tournament.

Belmont (36-24), which earned it first bid to the NCAA tournament by winning the Atlantic Sun Conference tournament, is the No. 4 seed in the regional and Vanderbilt is No. 1. Both schools are located in Nashville, Tenn.  Vanderbilt (47-10) is the host school for the four-team regional. Also in the field for the double-elimination tournament are No. 2 seed Oklahoma State (35-23) and No. 3 seed Troy (42-17).

Belmont and Vanderbilt met once during the season and Vanderbilt won, 6-2, at home on Feb. 23. The Bruins did not play Oklahoma State or Troy.

Vanderbilt finished second to Florida in the SEC tournament. The Commodores are the overall No. 6 seed in the 64-team tournament.

Regional winners advance to the super regionals, where they play a best 2-of-3 series. The eight super regional winners advance to the College World Series, June 18-29, at Omaha's new TD Ameritrade Park.



Winona State wins twice in DII tourney

CARY, N.C. - Winona State beat Mount Olive, 9-3, Monday to advance to Thursday's bracket championship at the NCAA Division II national tournament.

Former Xavier prep Andrew DeSousa is a pitcher for Winona State. He has yet to appear in either of Winona's games in the tournament. The Warriors are the only undefeated team in their four-team half of the eight-team bracket. They will play either Mount Olive or Millersville on Thursday (June 2) in the double-elimination event. If Winona loses, a deciding game will be played Friday (June 3).

Grand Valley State, which features former Jefferson pitcher Ryan Garman, also is in the tournament.  The Lakers are in the lower bracket. They were beaten by Sonoma State, 7-6, in 11 innings Sunday and are 0-1. Garman started Sunday and pitched four innings, allowing six hits and four runs. Grand Valley plays Southern Connecticut State on Tuesday in an elimination game. The Lakers would have to win four straight games to reach the championship.

The championship game, matching the two bracket winners, is Saturday (June 4) at 11 a.m. (Iowa time). It is on the CBS Sports Network (formerly CBS College Sports), channel 171 on Mediacom or 613 on DirecTV. It is not available on ImOn cable.


Galbraith 4th, Linn-Mar duo 3rd at state

There was both heartbreak and elation Saturday for local players in the finals of the Class 2A boys state tennis tournament.

Giant slayer Riley Galbraith of Kennedy, who had knocked off the second-seed in singles competition on Friday, lost a grueling semifinal match that started at 10 a.m. outdoors at Veterans Memorial Tennis Center and finished at 3:30 p.m. indoors at the Coe College Clark Racquet Center.

In between was a 2 1/2-hour rain delay before afternoon play was moved to Coe and the Westfield Tennis Center.

With less than an hour’s rest following the three-set marathon with singles runner-up Naveen Nath of Des Moines Roosevelt, Galbraith then lost another slugfest to friend and nemesis Kyle Appel of Iowa City West to finish in fourth place.

The only bright spot in an otherwise gloomy day for the Kennedy junior was that the Cougar soccer team with which he normally plays advanced to the state tournament with a 1-0 victory over Cedar Falls.

Galbraith watched part of the soccer game from his car at Kingston Stadium as rain drenched the nearby tennis courts.

Meanwhile, the Linn-Mar doubles duo of Tyler McCann and Gavin Young rebounded from a loss to the eventual state champions from Des Moines Roosevelt to capture third place in the tournament.


Cougars reach state tourney, aim higher

The No. 7 Kennedy boys soccer team was relatively subdued after its 1-0 victory over ninth-ranked Cedar Falls on Saturday at Kingston Stadium, especially considering that the win put Kennedy into the state tournament for the second year in a row.

Perhaps the Cougars (14-5) were subdued because they were recovering from a hard fought game against a conference foe. Or maybe it was because they have bigger goals yet to accomplish this season.

“It is something that we have wanted since the beginning of the season,” said junior midfielder Gabe Christianson. “Our (ultimate) goal is to win state so we are that much closer.”

The Cougars didn’t waste much time celebrating, but instead began to focus on the next step towards obtaining that state championship.

“Now that we have gotten down there, the task is to win that first night,” said co-coach Steve Robertson. “We need to win that first night and come back ready to play two more games.”

The Cougars are seeded eighth in the state tournament. They play top-seeded West Des Moines Valley (20-1) in a first-round state tournament game June 2 at 5 p.m. at Cownie Park in Des Moines. Kennedy was beaten by Valley, 2-1, on April 15 in their only meeting of the season.



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