CEDAR RAPIDS – Amazing how baseball coaches can be involved in over 20 years of games and remember specifics about most all of them.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Bret Hoyer was asked Monday what he recalled about his team’s 2000 state baseball tournament Class 4A quarterfinal against Cedar Rapids Washington. It was a lot.
“I remember we got off to a good start and had a chance to chase their starting pitcher,” Hoyer said, without hesitation. “They made a good defensive play at home plate to cut down a run. They got out of that inning … to make a long story short, they came back and won.”
Hoyer made a couple of off-the-record additional comments about the umpiring. As he said, Washington did end up winning, 11-4.
The point is that game was believed to be the first at the state tournament that involved two Metro teams. Number two occurs Wednesday night when Hoyer’s Cougars take on Linn-Mar in a 4A quarterfinal at Principal Park in Des Moines.
That’s a pretty cool thing.
“It’s a typical Metro rivalry,” Hoyer said. “We’re just going to go down there and focus on what we can do, what we have to do.”
“If you look at the entire (4A) field, seven of the eight teams were ranked at the end of the (regular) season,” said Linn-Mar Coach Chad Lechner. “It’s a pretty good field. No matter who you would have drawn, you were going to see a quality opponent.”
These opponents already have played three times this season.
Kennedy won the first matchup in the Metro Tournament semifinals, 12-2, in five innings, and the teams split a Mississippi Valley Conference double-header at Kennedy: 4-1 Kennedy and 7-6 Linn-Mar. Austin Stroschein had a huge grand slam in that second game to help the Lions come back from a big deficit.
They’re still talking about the 2-1 extra-inning comeback win Linn-Mar got over Muscatine in a substate final last week. A two-out throwing error on Muscatine’s second baseman tied that game and sent it to extra innings, where Linn-Mar won it on a wild pitch.
“I think we’re still digesting it,” Lechner said. “It’s been a very rewarding year for us. I’ve got a great coaching staff, as good as it gets. I knew we had a lot of talent, but it was a matter of if they’d be ready to compete at this (championship) level.
While this is just Linn-Mar’s fourth trip to state, its first since 2006, Kennedy is a state pro, as it were. The Cougars are in it for the 14th time, including three years in a row.
Guys like third baseman-second baseman Devon Jacobus played on Kennedy’s 2010 state championship team. Will experience trump precociousness?
Iowa City West (34-8) is in the dance for the fourth year in a row, with a 4A quarterfinal against West Des Moines Valley (33-9) Wednesday at noon.
The top 4A seed is Ankeny (40-2).
CLASS 4A QUARTERFINALS
Iowa City West (34-8) vs. West Des Moines Valley (33-9)
When: Noon, Wednesday
Where: Principal Park, Des Moines
Scouting Report: This should be a really good 4-5 game, West being the fourth seed. The Trojans are at the state tournament a fourth straight year after rallying for an extra-inning victory over Dubuque Senior in the substate finals. West won the MVC’s Valley Division and comes in with a nine-game win streak. Junior second baseman is West’s top hitter, with a .395 batting average and five home runs. Sophomore first baseman Declan Doyle (son of Iowa football strength coach Chris) has a team-high 41 RBIs. Valley has won eight games in a row going into this one. Austin Stephens is a .392 hitter with team-best 48 RBIs. He also is 6-0 as a pitcher with a 0.70 ERA.
Linn-Mar (29-11) vs. Cedar Rapids Kennedy (32-6)
When: 6 p.m., Wednesday
Where: Principal Park, Des Moines
Scouting Report: Teams split the MVC’s Mississippi Division crown, with Kennedy winning two of three regular-season games between them. School record for victories for Linn-Mar. Substate final romp past Cedar Falls was Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer’s 600th career victory. Both clubs can throw plenty of good pitching at you. Senior Alex Hayden (10-2, 1.06 ERA) will surely get the ball Wednesday for Kennedy. The Cougars are balanced offensively, with Cody Bell (.460) and Josh Jahlas (.456) the top hitters average-wise. Linn-Mar also is balanced offensively, with four players having 20+ RBIs. Senior outfielder Michael Redmond has been a key catalyst, with a .366 average and four home runs.