Wednesday, February 26, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Former Metro preps in pro baseball

RYAN SWEENEY (Xavier, Oakland Athletics) -- Did not play Monday in the Athletics' 2-1 loss to the Mariners.
Year-to-date: Batting avg. -- .286 (40-140), HR -- 0, RBI -- 10, 2B -- 5, 3B -- 1, R -- 15, SB -- 1.

MATT HOLLAND (Marion, GCL Phillies) -- Came in as a defensive replacement at first base and did not bat Monday in the Phillies' 4-2 loss to the GCL Braves.
Year-to-date: Batting avg. -- .333 (10-30), HR -- 1, RBI -- 5, 2B -- 4, 3B -- 0, R -- 10, SB -- 0.

SCOTT SCHEBLER (Prairie, Ogden (Dodgers)) -- Started in right field and was 1-for-5 with a triple, run scored and three RBIs Monday in Ogden's 13-8 loss at Idaho Falls.
Year-to-date: Batting avg. -- .338 (24-71), HR -- 2, RBI -- 15, 2B -- 4, 3B -- 2, R -- 10, SB -- 0.

KELLEN SWEENEY (Jefferson, Bluefield (Blue Jays)) -- Did not play Monday in Bluefield's 5-4 loss to Princeton.
Year-to-date: Batting avg. -- .114 (4-35), HR -- 0, RBI -- 1, 2B -- 1, 3B -- 0, R -- 4, SB -- 0.

NATE WOODS (Xavier, GCL Marlins) -- The Marlins were not scheduled to play Monday.
Year-to-date: Batting avg. -- .324 (11-34), HR -- 0, RBI -- 4, 2B -- 3, 3B -- 0, R -- 8, SB -- 0.


Kennedy-Jeff matchup highlights 4A pairings

The cutoff line has passed. The official announcement is a day away.

But that won't keep us from sharing our projections for the Class 4A substate baseball tournament pairings.

Based on the formula used by the Iowa High School Athletic Association* we have determined that four Metro teams will have home games when the tournament starts on July 15. This involves math, so I'm not claiming it to be correct to a tee (although my father was a math instructor (algebra, calculus, statistics -- not adding and subtracting), so I suppose I'm genetically predisposed. Of course my mom plays a role in this, too, and she didn't teach math).

Nonetheless, I feel comfortable with our projections.

Defending state champion Kennedy earned the No. 1 seed in Substate 3 and the Cougars will host sixth-seeded Jefferson at 7 p.m. This is the only first-round matchup of Metro teams. Kennedy beat Jefferson in the first round of the Bob Vrbicek Metro tournament May 23, and the teams play single games Monday at Jefferson and Tuesday at Kennedy.

Also in Substate 3, Xavier earned the No. 2 seed and will host fifth-seeded Dubuque Senior. Third-seeded Dubuque Hempstead must travel to Epworth to play No. 4 seed Western Dubuque. The IHSAA has a rule that if a school's field does not have lights and it can not secure a lighted diamond with no further travel for the lower seeded team, the game will be played at the lower seed's field if it is lighted. Hempstead has no lights, Western Dubuque does.


Baseball injuries: Research musings

Over the last 10 years I have performed many orthopedic physicals on major league pitchers and catchers in spring training with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Milwaukee Brewers organizations. A few weeks ago I was privileged to spend a weekend with the Milwaukee Brewers' athletic training staff and I was rewarded with great seats to watch their weekend series at Miller Park. Truth be told, major league players spend a lot of time in the training room, recovering from all types of injuries.

Here in Iowa, high school baseball season is in full swing. Most baseball fans wouldn’t guess that high school baseball players suffer many injuries, but just ask the team athletic trainer, coaches and parents.

Less than 1 in 200 high school baseball players in the United States will be drafted by Major League Baseball. Fortunately, between 5 and 10 percent of all high school baseball athletes will go on to play at the college level. Thus, staying healthy during the high school baseball season is paramount to staying on the field, and it will make a positive impact towards an athlete’s chances of playing at the next level.

Research tells us that the most common site of injury in high school baseball is the head and face area; followed by injuries to the shoulder; then a relative tie for injuries to the hand/wrist, arm/elbow, and ankle/lower leg; and lastly injuries to the thigh/upper leg. Injuries to the head and face occur more commonly by a batted ball than by a pitched ball.

Pitchers are the most likely high school player to suffer an injury that requires surgery, and pitchers are more likely to suffer a shoulder injury throwing during practice (rather than a game) that will put them on the sideline.


Prairie splits, gets 7th win in busy week

Cedar Rapids Prairie baseball coach Matt Thede was extremely unhappy with his team after the Hawks lost to Iowa City West, 11-10, on June 24 in Iowa City.

It wasn't the loss so much. It was the attitude. He thought it was too negative, too comfortable with losing, too willing to accept the unacceptable. And there were discipline problems.

The next day, he didn't take several of his players to a tournament in Marion. He told them to go home. He'd play with the guys who wanted to be there.

The Hawks got pounded, 10-1, by Burlington at the Marion tournament on June 25, perhaps shaken by the turn of events.

"We had a reality check. We stunk a little bit," Thede said Saturday afternoon.

That loss to Burlington dropped the Hawks to 10-and-13 for the year. Their dream of a winning season seemed to be slipping away.

Then last Monday, the Hawks held a team meeting to talk it over. They cleansed their souls.

"We had some apologies and we had some fired-up speeches," Thede said, "and ever since then the ball has been rolling."

The Hawks swept a doubleheader at Dubuque Hempstead on Monday. They swept another twinbill from Waterloo East on Wednesday, then swept Cedar Falls on Friday for six straight wins.

Not done yet, they beat Cedar Rapids Washington, 6-1, in the first game of a makeup doubleheader Saturday at Prairie to make it seven wins in one week.

Washington won the second game Saturday, 11-10, to give the Warriors a much-needed victory and give the Hawks their only blemish during an otherwise perfect week.


Christensen sets record in Cougars' sweep

Austin Christensen climbed into the Kennedy High School record book in style Friday night.

Christensen tossed a one-hitter and became the winningest pitcher in school history as the No.5 Cougars blanked Dubuque Wahlert, 3-0, in the first game of a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at Kennedy Field.

Kennedy won the second game, 11-1, in six innings behind a strong pitching performance by Adam Lloyd.

With the sweep, the Cougars climbed over Wahlert to the top of the Mississippi Division standings with an 18-4 record with four games left in the conference race. Wahlert fell to 17-5.

Christensen passed Danny Bales as the winningest pitcher in school history with his 27th victory. Bales compiled a 26-7 record from 2001-04, while Christensen is 27-6 since 2008.

Christensen is now the most prolific pitcher in school history and the most prolific hitter as well, with school records for single-season home runs, career home runs and career RBIs to complement his newest record for career victories.

"It's incredible. I don't know what to say, to be honest," Christensen remarked. "There have been so many good players to come through Kennedy, like I've said a million times. Kennedy has such a good tradition in baseball and to have my name up there is pretty awesome."

Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer had one word to describe his star player. "Unique," the coach said, smiling broadly.



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