Cedar Rapids Prairie dropped out of the Class 4A baseball rankings this week, but the Hawks don't care a whole lot about that.
They know they have the ingredients for a good club this year and they proved it Tuesday night.
Brennan Hammer carried a shutout into the seventh inning and Prairie beat top-ranked Kennedy, 3-1, in a crisp Mississippi Valley Conference game at Prairie.
Hammer went the distance and handcuffed the Cougars most of the night with 11 strikeouts, but it got a little dicey in the seventh inning when Kennedy plated its only run and had runners at second and third with only one out.
Josh Jahlas, who had struck out three straight times against Hammer, walloped a line drive to deep center field that would have scored both runs and tied the game with two outs, but Jason Velvick reacted quickly and made a leaping catch to end the contest.
Hammer's immediate thought when Jahlas hit that ball was, "Oh, crap."
"When I saw it off the bat I got worried," said Hammer, a talented lefthander, "but thank god I have a good center fielder."
Hammer effectively mixed his fastball, curveball and changeup all night. The Cougars had particular trouble with his late-breaking curveball, which would approach the plate at the knees and drop to the batter's ankles at the last second.
"The umpire was commenting how much his ball was moving," said Prairie Coach Matt Thede. "Every single pitch had movement on it. And frankly against one of the top programs in the state, you're going to have to be like that."
Kennedy (9-2, 4-2) managed only two opposite-field hits in the first six innings, but the Cougars battled to the end.
Derek Jacobus led off the seventh with a triple down the right-field line and scored on a base hit by Brock Skow. Alex Hayden singled to left and Jared Staton bunted the runners to second and third with one out, but the rally ended there.
Hammer fanned Andrew Johnson for his 11th and final strikeout, then Jahlas hit his rocket to center field that looked like a two-run double when it left the bat.
"It was exciting to beat the No. 1 team in the state, but we respect them," said Hammer, who is already one of the Metro's top pitchers as a junior. "They're a great ball team. They do things right."
The Hawks beat Kennedy ace Hayden, an all-state pitcher last year as a junior. Hayden had mild control problems in the first inning when he walked the leadoff batter and hit the next man in the helmet with a breaking ball that didn't break.
Hammer hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0, Tyler Votroubek hit an RBI double to make it 2-0 and a Kennedy throwing error made it 3-0. Hayden needed 35 pitches to escape the first inning, but he found his groove and pitched a complete game.
"We got three runs in the first inning and that gave us some confidence," said Hammer.
Prairie (8-5, 4-2) gave Kennedy a tough game Monday night before falling 5-4 at Kennedy, then the Hawks finished the job Tuesday night. Thede said he enjoys playing the Cougars and matching wits with Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer.
"You have to bring your best," said Thede. "You have to play the best to be the best."
Kennedy played without cleanup hitter Devon Jacobus, who missed the game with a sore back.
Jahlas, cf, 4 0 0 0, Ambrosy, rf, 3 0 0 0, Bell, 1b, 3 0 1 0, Lizarraga,c, 3 0 0 0, Dk Jacobus, ss, 2 1 2 0, Skow, 3b, 2 0 1 1, Oltmann, pr, 0 0 0 0, Hayden, p, 3 0 1 0, Lloyd, cr, 0 0 0 0, Staton, dh, 2 0 0 0, A.Johnson, lf, 3 0 0 0. Totals 25 1 5 1.
Velvick, cf, 2 1 0 0, Mougin, ss, 2 1 0 0, Hammer, p, 2 0 0 1, Carlson, 2b, 3 0 1 0, Votroubek, 1b, 3 1 2 1, Butz, 3b, 3 0 1 0, Alberts, lf, 3 0 0 0, Pond, c, 3 0 1 0, Davison, cr, 0 0 0 0, Schulte, rf, 2 0 1 0. Totals 23 3 6 2.
Kennedy 000 000 1 - 1 5 1
Prairie 300 000 x - 3 6 0
Hayden and Lizarraga. Hammer and Pond. W - Hammer. L - Hayden. 2B - Carlson, Votroubek. 3B - Dk Jacobus. SB - Dk Jacobus (2).
|< Prev||Next >|