Wednesday, April 08, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Christensen joins list of great Metro players

I have no idea how Austin Christensen ranks in the annals of Metro baseball. We’ll leave that debate to others who have seen a whole lot more games and players.

His season is far from over, but already the Kennedy senior has compiled a .600 batting average, 13 home runs and 37 runs batted in.

The fact Christensen is hitting .600 is remarkable enough, but also consider the restraints on composite bats that were put into effect this year. The baseball isn’t supposed to come off the bat like a missile, unless you’re a guy with superb talent like Christensen.

I don’t like to get into debates about the top players in Metro history, or even the top players at a particular school. Times are different from decade to decade. Equipment is different from year to year. You can’t compare competition levels, or the players that hit before or after the great ones. And we all know official scorekeeping isn’t exactly perfect
some places.

I do know there have been some remarkable performances in recent history by Metro players.



John Lewis retires as Kirkwood baseball coach

John Lewis is 63 years old and wants to spend more time with his four grandchildren.

He's found a way to do it.

Lewis confirmed Monday he's retiring as the head baseball coach at Kirkwood Community College after 32 years, four trips to the junior college World Series and 1,095 victories.

"Reflecting back, it was a great run," he said. "I guess I spent half my life at Kirkwood."

Lewis was an assistant coach at Kirkwood for one season in 1979, then became the head coach in 1980. He's been at the helm ever since, cranking out successful teams on a regular basis.

"He worked hard to get everybody to play at their best level," Xavier baseball coach Dave Schemmel remarked. "I'm impressed with the consistency with which his teams played. Season-in, season-out, they're always at the top."

The Eagles finished second at the NJCAA Division II World Series in 1995, placed third in 1998, finished fifth in 1999, placed eighth in 1993 and won numerous conference titles.


Striegel, Rooney deliver J-Hawk split

WATERLOO -- Drew Striegel found himself batting in a clutch situation for the fourth time in Jefferson's last five baseball games when he stepped into the batters box Monday night in the top of the seventh inning against Waterloo West.

For the second time he delivered, stroking a bases-loaded two-run single through West's drawn in infield.

And for the first time, the J-Hawks made it stand up.

Striegel's hit and Michael Rooney's seven strong innings on the mound sent Jefferson past West, 6-4, in the second game of a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader at Danny Vansyoc Memorial Field.

Waterloo West won the first game, 3-2, scoring the winning run on a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the seventh inning. That loss was Jefferson's fourth straight and all were by one run. It was the third consecutive walk-off loss.

"It shows we can play with anybody, but maybe we just kind of play to our opponents' level," said Striegel, whose grand slam against Xavier last Friday gave the J-Hawks a three-run lead in the top of the seventh inning. The Saints came back with four runs in the bottom of the seventh, and then won the second game with a hit in the bottom of the seventh. "It was nice knowing that we could go over to Xavier and they're at the top of the rankings and we could hang with them and almost give them a loss."


Stamping out cancer, 1 pitch at a time

MOUNT VERNON – Gary Stamp was scheduled to have a follow-up visit with his cancer specialists in Houston next month, but he’s put it off until September.

For one thing, he’s feeling so well that his doctors don’t see the need for him to make the trip right now.

For another, the appointment in mid-July comes smack in the middle of the state high school softball tournament.

Just three months ago, the 65-year-old area coaching legend was not sure he’d even be alive come tourney time, much less preparing a team to play in it as he’s been doing for for the past 42 years.

But there he was last Thursday night at the snazzy softball complex the Mustangs share with Cornell College, a bundle of energy as he prepped his girls for a home game with Marion.

“The last six weeks have been just phenomenal,” Stamp said as he took a short breather after hitting infield practice with the same sharp precision as always.

“I feel the best I’ve felt since last November. I feel really, really good.”


Greve starts and closes - in same game

Nate Greve has been a starting pitcher during his baseball career and he's been a relief pitcher during his career, but he'd never done both in the same game.

Until Saturday.

Greve helped the Linn-Mar Lions split with No.5 Kennedy on a rainy, sloppy day at the Linn-Mar field by doing double-duty on the mound in the nightcap.

The Cougars battered the Lions, 13-2, with a 15-hit attack in the first game, and Greve had the assignment of trying to quiet the Kennedy bats in Game 2.

He succeeded, he failed and he ultimately succeeded again as Linn-Mar captured the wild nightcap, 15-13.

Greve, a lefthanded sophomore, started the second game and had a no-hitter after three innings, but he walked three batters in the fourth inning and the Cougars plated five runs, ending his day on the mound. Or so it appeared.

"I told him at that time, I might bring you back to close the game," Linn-Mar Coach Chad Lechner related. "I need you to be mentally tough and ready to go. Stay loose."


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