Cedar Rapids Kennedy spots Western Dubuque 2 runs, scores final 12 for substate romp

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Sometimes coaches can learn from their players instead of it always being vice versa.

Things like not to get too uptight if the ball doesn’t bounce your team’s way early. Just trust your guys, let them play and see what happens.

What happened Monday night, after a slow start, was a blowout win for Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

“The kids weren’t fazed,” Coach Bret Hoyer said, after his club’s 12-2, five-inning win over Western Dubuque in a Class 4A substate baseball semifinal. “The coaches were, but the kids weren’t. The coaches were a little nervous. The kids play through that stuff better than the coaches handle it. That says a lot about the seniors and the leadership they provide. They know they’ve got to play the game one pitch at a time. They say it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Just keep plugging away.”

Kennedy (29-13) plugged away and eventually ripped away at its opponent.

Western Dubuque (26-13) got a two-run home run from Greg Bennett in the top of the first inning for an immediate lead, but the Cougars scored the next 12 runs. An eight-run third was the difference.

Ninth-place hitter Parker Cooley had a two-run triple, Jackson Behn a two-run home run, and Western Dubuque imploded defensively with three crucial errors.

“It just takes one guy getting on base to kind of open up everything,” Behn said. “One big hit can really get everybody energized and get everyone going.”

Behn’s moonshot to left field was pretty much a no doubter and extended his team’s lead to 5-2.

“After Behn hit that home run, that really swung the momentum,” said Kennedy’s Tyler Dralle.

It appeared to take the Cougars a turn through the batting order to fully figure out WD freshman lefty starting pitcher Zach Bierman. Behn said Kennedy expected right-hander Greg Bennett to be the opposing starter.

He ended up coming on to relieve Bierman in the telltale third. Kennedy scored twice more in the fourth to put the mercy rule in effect, and starting pitcher Jacob Henry made sure it was enforced with a nifty game-ending 1-6-3 double play a half-inning later.

Henry rebounded nicely from the rough top of the first, allowing just five hits and striking out two.

“There was a lot of ballgame left, 6 1/2 innings after that,” Dralle said. “The bottom of our order is just on fire right now. They are producing well. So if the top of our order can do that too, I don’t think anyone can beat us. And Henry pitched well after the first inning, really closed it down. “He didn’t let the home run bother him, didn’t carry that into the next inning,” Hoyer said.

Kennedy plays a substate final Wednesday night at Cedar Rapids Jefferson (27-11). The teams split their regular-season double-header.

The Cougars are seeking to make it to the state tournament for the third straight year, for the fifth time in six years and the eighth time in 10.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com


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