MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
Now is the time to turn up the defense.
The top-ranked Saints s ... »
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CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids Golden Bears did pretty well Sunday afternoon.
Starting pitcher Alex Schick allowed only a run and struck out seven in seven innings to beat Beloit, 6-1, at Veterans Memorial Stadium. Mitchell Kranson, his catcher, coaxed him through the game and added a pair of hits, including a two-run single.
They’re both from the University of California. A bunch of recent Cedar Rapids Kernels have come from that place.
“Our scout, Elliott, who’s now the West Coast crosschecker, got promoted this year, he just likes us. I don’t know why, but he does,” Schick said. “He’s a good dude. I don’t know. We’ve got some good players. It’s definitely been working out, for sure.”
Elliott is Elliott Strankman, who scouts Northern California for the parent Minnesota Twins. He’s the guy most responsible for the Twins drafting Schick (in the sixth round), Kranson (ninth) and pitcher Ryan Mason (13th) out of Cal last year.
He also signed Twins farmhands and former Golden Bears infielder Chris Paul and pitchers Trevor Hildenberger and Michael Theofanopoulos. They played in Cedar Rapids parts or all of the 2016 and 2015 seasons.
Mason, by the way, is in extended spring training. He’s likely to play for the Kernels at some point.
“Hildy’s doing great, Theo had a great year last year, Chris is doing well in high-A,” Schick said. “There are a lot of us.”
The Kernels (2-2) rebounded well from a ninth-inning collapse and 7-6 loss Saturday night in the home opener. They had 13 hits, three each from Jermaine Palacios, Travis Blankenhorn and Brandon Lopez.
Third baseman Blankenhorn hit a solo home run to right-center field in the first inning, a towering drive to the biggest part of the ballpark and where many balls seem to die. He has homered in back-to-back games and is off to a 6-for-14 start.
“The goal for me this year is just to be consistent,” said the Twins’ third-round draft pick in 2015. “Just try and stay consistent the whole year. Being in the middle of the lineup, I’m going to try and drive in some runs. Be consistent, be a good defensive player and just be a better overall player.”
“His whole demeanor, man, the way he goes about the game, is awesome,” said Kernels Manager Tommy Watkins. “He’s a leader. He doesn’t say much, leads by example. Just a big part of this team.”
Max Cordy struck out the side in the eighth for Cedar Rapids, with Alex Robinson retiring all three guys he faced in the ninth. The left-hander from the University of Maryland showed off a 96-mile-per-hour fastball.
The Kernels play Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at Kane County, then return home Thursday for a series against Wisconsin.
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