Saturday, February 16, 2019
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Galbraith may have a tough choice

Riley Galbraith made the rounds of friends’ Kennedy High School graduation parties Thursday night, basking in the sweet feel of a big day in tennis on Friday and trying not to puzzle too much over the dilemma he may face Saturday.

With a mild upset victory Friday afternoon, he’s in the semifinals of today’s 2A state tennis tournament. But he’s also a starter and topnotch penalty kicker on the Kennedy soccer team that’s in a 3A substate finals match.

The location of the conflicting events isn’t bad, since the Veterans Memorial Tennis Center is just a parking lot apart from Kingston Stadium.

But the timing is dicey.

The highly-regarded but unseeded Galbraith is set to faceoff with third-seeded fellow junior Naveen Nath of Des Moines Roosevelt on the tennis court at 10 a.m.  They’ve split two previous encounters, so this will be a grudge match.

The winner goes for the state singles title at 2 p.m., while consolation match for third place starts at 1:30.

The soccer game with Cedar Falls kicks off at noon.


Zach Johnson has Kids on Course

When Zach Johnson comes to his home town of Cedar Rapids, good things happen. As they did this week with Zach's promotion of Kids On Course.

Before we get into that, let's make a few comments about what the Z-Man has done on his first half of the PGA Tour season.

I told him at Van Buren School, at the start of my interview with him, that I likened it to Guts Golf. He didn't know whether that was a compliment or a criticism.

I told him that it was by far a compliment, the way he has performed in his last three tournaments. At Charlotte, he came from 75th to fourth. At the Players Championship, he came from 100th to 12th. And his Sunday round at Colonial of 65 vaulted him to fourth place.

That's the sort of "guts" play that Zach emulates. He called it "boring golf" - fairways, tees, greens. And when the putter is working, that also means a high finish on the leaderboard.


Nate Woods enjoys banner year at Belmont

A total of 1,525 baseball players were selected in the Major League draft last year. High school kids, college kids, pimply faced kids, all sorts of kids.

But not Nate Woods.

"It was definitely devastating," he said this week.

Woods belted 20 home runs and drove in 78 runs last season at Belmont University to rank among the NCAA Division I leaders in both categories, but none of the 30 Major League teams gave him a sniff.

He was drafted in the 28th round by the Dodgers in 2007 when he was a senior at Xavier High School, but nobody thought he was worthy of being selected last year as a junior in college.

There were 50 rounds in the 2010 draft, and nobody thought the 6-foot-6, 235-pound slugger was worth a chance.

"I have no idea what happened last year," he said.


J-Hawks make Bulldogs say 'Unkel'

One hit was enough to make Bettendorf say "Unkel" Thursday night at the Jefferson baseball field.

Tanner Unkel's two-run single in the bottom of the fifth inning broke a scoreless tie and propelled Jefferson to a 3-0 win over Bettendorf.

Unkel's hit was the lone safety for the J-Hawks (1-1). It came after a hit batsman, base on balls and wild pitch had put J-Hawks at second and third with one out.

Unkel, the J-Hawks' speedy lead-off hitter, slapped a 1-1 fastball the opposite way past Bettendorf first baseman JP Flynn and into right field, chasing home both runners.

"He's a good opposite-field hitter and he was due," Jefferson Coach Mike Kuba said. "That was the right spot for him."

Kuba said Unkel has the green light to drop down a bunt whenever he wants. With the runners at first and second, Bettendorf put on several plays anticipating a bunt. The wild pitch moved the runners up and made it more prudent for Unkel to hit away.

"Once I saw that third baseman creeping in, I thought I might as well try to put one through the right side and see what happens," Unkel said. "I just tried to put the ball in play."

Bettendorf right-hander Alec Darrow (0-1) helped out with a pitch on the outside portion of the plate.

"I just stepped to it and rammed it down the right side," Unkel said.



Iowa may build new baseball stadium

University of Iowa officials are exploring the possibility of building a new baseball stadium.

"It's got to be done, it needs to be done," Iowa baseball coach Jack Dahm told the Metro Sports Report on Thursday.

The Hawkeyes currently play at Duane Banks Baseball Field, which was built in 1974 and has 3,000 seats. Dahm said the facility is not as good as most of the other stadiums in the Big Ten or Missouri Valley Conference.

"We're at the bottom of the barrel," he remarked.

Dahm said Gary Barta, Iowa's director of athletics, has encouraged him to explore options for a new stadium.

"This is just in the infancy part," Dahm stressed. "We're just starting to talk. We don't have any plans in place."


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