Sunday, February 23, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Zach Johnson update

Former Cedar Rapids Regis prep Zach Johnson played in the British Open this weekend and finished tied for 16th.

Zach ranks 35th on the PGA Tour money list with $1,632,972.

He ranks 30th on the FedEx Cup points list with 855.

Zach has played in 17 events and made 15 cuts.

He has three top 10 finishes and nine in the Top 25.

His Official World Golf Ranking is 33.



Memories of a Marion boyhood

(Second in a series)

He could barely read or write.

He could not drive a car.

He had a severe speech impediment.

His mental abilities were about those of a 12-year old. In the accepted language of his time, he was called retarded.

But against these disabilities, Lyle Touro was blessed with a generous heart, a sunny disposition, abiding optimism, a childish delight in being alive and the perseverance of an ox.

He loved sports and he loved children, and out of these enthusiasms, sometime in his late 20s, he decided to form a softball league for boys.  Lyle dreamed big.

This was Marion in the 1940s, a town of fewer than 5,000 people living in modest homes concentrated in about two square miles. Little League had only begun to expand out of its birthplace in Williamsport, Pa. The time was far in the future when vast youth sports enterprises would offer children as young as five the opportunity to play organized sports.

In Marion 65 years ago, the idea of being on a team and in a league was strange and thrilling to a sports-mad sixth-grader whose entire athletic experience consisted of pick-up games.



No denying Michael this time

Ten days ago, Kennedy's Griffin Michael hit a ball into the right-center field gap that had extra-bases and a tie ballgame against Jefferson written all over it. Instead, J-Hawks right fielder Jake Schmidt flagged it down and Jefferson beat the Cougars.

There was no tracking down Michael's drives Friday.

Michael doubled, tripled and drove in two runs, and Devon Jacobus hit a home run and drove in three to power Kennedy past Jefferson, 7-3, in a Class 4A substate tournament baseball game played before a crowd estimated at 500 people at Kennedy.

Defending state champion Kennedy (30-8) is the top-seeded team in Region 3 and, thus, receives a bye into Wednesday's substate final that also will be played at Kennedy. The Cougars' opponent will be either Xavier or Dubuque Hempstead, who play each other Monday at Xavier. Second-seeded Xavier beat Dubuque Senior, 5-1, and No. 3 seed Hempstead ousted Western Dubuque, 4-2, Friday night.

Michael had three of Kennedy's 11 hits and two of the Cougars' seven extra-base hits.


Semler's walk-off homer lifts Marion

It was a scene right out of 1940s movie or maybe a Clair Bee boys baseball book.

The bleachers and hillside were packed Friday night for a Class 3A district semifinals matchup between age-old rivals from Marion High and Center Point-Urbana.

It's been a pitchers duel from the start featuring of pair of Tylers, Hedtke on the mound for the Indians and Smith for the Pointers.

Bottom of the seventh, scored knotted at 1-1, two outs, a runner on third for Marion and up to the plate comes All-American hero Kasey Semler. (Did we mention it was starting to drizzle, making any extra innings doubtful?)

A pitching switch is made for the visitors, with freshman Logan Holtz taking over. He had been the winning hurler when CPU knocked off the Wamac Conference West Division co-champs, 7-5, earlier in the season.

Holtz spins a curveball that Semler takes for strike one. He unleashes another curve. And just as Chip Hilton would have done it in a Clair Bee tale, Semler blasts a long high fly to left-center that barely drops between the scoreboard and the outfield fence.

The senior four-year starter has rallied his team once more with a 3-1 victory, advancing them to the district finals Monday night at home against Union High (14-13) of LaPorte City.

"This was high school baseball at its finest," said exultant Marion Coach Steve Fish. "A great environment and a great game.


Freese struggles, Warriors fall to West

IOWA CITY - Back-to-back home runs in the opening inning of play can deflate any baseball team pretty quickly.

Iowa City West pounced on Washington pitcher Dakota Freese for five runs in the first inning of the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs Friday night, but the Warriors never gave up.

As has been the trend for the Washington baseball team all year, the Warriors faced adversity and battled through it, displaying a good effort in their 7-5 loss at the Iowa City West field.

“We spotted them five in the first but we fought right back and got it to a 5-4 game,” said Warrior Coach Brent Henry. “We unfortunately had two runs too little.”

A powerful Iowa City West lineup got to Freese right away as Ryan Siems and Spence Bonner hit back-to-back RBI singles, starting the big first inning against the Chicago White Sox draft pick. West pitcher Jeremy Cronk then hit a two-run bomb over the left field fence, followed by another homer to left by Luke Crimmins.

“He was throwing good pitches. He got it in on their hands a little bit and they hit a couple of seeing-eye grounders and a couple of bloopers,” said Henry. “They really only tagged him for two good hits, everything else was in on the hands and they just found holes.”



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