Monday, January 20, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Christensen's 2 homers break Kennedy record

MARSHALLTOWN - It's too soon to anoint Austin Christensen as the greatest all-around player in the history of Kennedy baseball, but he's certainly the most prolific power hitter of all time.

Christensen blasted two more home runs Monday to break the school record as the top-ranked Cougars bounced Marshalltown, 6-1, in a Memorial Day game at Marshalltown.

Christensen tied Tony Booth (1987-90) for the Kennedy record for career homers when he hit his 25th roundtripper Saturday against Burlington, but now he has the all-time mark with 27.

"It's incredible. He (Booth) was a great hitter," Christensen said. "It's pretty awesome to have it all to myself."

Christensen has been awesome himself this season for Kennedy in the first six games. He's 12-for-17 at the plate for a lusty batting average of .706 with four doubles, two triples, four homers and 14 RBIs.

He's also walked seven times, giving him an on-base percentage of .792. His slugging percentage is 1.882 and his OPS (On Base + Slugging Percentage) is 2.674. Those numbers are completely off the charts for Class 4A baseball. Any baseball, for that matter.

"I've never seen anybody have that kind of start," Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer commented. "He's not invincible, but he executes good pitches."

Christensen owns Kennedy records for doubles (43), home runs (27), RBIs (134) and extra-base hits (78). He ranks second in hits and third in runs, triples, walks and victories.

He also ranks third in school history with a 23-6 record as a pitcher, just three wins shy of the school mark of 26 held by Danny Bales (2001-04). He's 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA this season with 21 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings.

Hoyer is not ready to crown Christensen as the greatest player in school history. Not yet, anyway.

"No, not now," Hoyer said. "He's in the conversation."


Warriors split at Oskaloosa

OSKALOOSA -- Grant Dostal scattered five hits over seven innings and Sam Kacena and Noah Dostal had two hits and two RBIs apiece to lead Washington past Oskaloosa, 8-3, in the first game of a nonconference prep baseball doubleheader Monday.

Mike Troendle and Dan White each scored twice for Washington.

Ottumwa came back to win the nightcap, 10-6.

AJ Puk homered, scored twice and drove in four runs for Washington (3-2). Losing pitcher Jacob Hand allowed five runs in 1 2/3 innings.

Oskaloosa's Erik McGee doubled, homered and drove in five runs.

Washington opens Mississippi Valley Conference play Tuesday with a doubleheader at Iowa City High.


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.


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