CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Titans and Sioux Falls Storm have met in the conference title game in each of the past four seasons.
If the Titans have any hope to make it five, they will need to dig out of an ever-increasing hole.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Marcus Colbert can be described as tough.
The Cedar Rapids Jefferson senior is a tough out at the plate and has shown an ability to persevere a pair of thumb injuries to post an impressive start to the season.
Colbert reached base in 3-of-4 plate appearances in the opener, scoring the winning run in the J-Hawks’ 6-5 come from behind victory over Class 3A ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier last night at Jefferson. The Saints (10-7, 5-5 MVC) rebounded for a 4-2 six-inning win when the game was called due to impending weather.
Colbert hit a single to right field his first at-bat, adding two more walks including one with two-outs in the J-Hawks bottom of the seventh. He scored from third on Drew Johnson’s squeeze bunt called by Jefferson Coach Kyle Rodenkirk. Before Monday’s games, he led Jefferson in hits, RBIs and home runs and hits, ranking among the Mississippi Valley Conference leaders in last two.
He is happy to contribute, but is quick to praise the rest of the J-Hawks (11-5, 6-3 MVC).
“It feels good,” Colbert said. “It is good teammates put me in that position. They get on base, they steal bases and the hitters in front of me do their job and move them. It’s not an individual thing. It’s a team aspect.”
Colbert has experienced a surge in power, hitting four home runs already after none as a junior. He hasn’t changed his approach, but Rodenkirk said they have tried to promote patience at the plate.
“He’s got a quick enough swing that not a lot of guys can throw it by him,” Rodenkirk said. “We’ve really worked in the (batting) cage to go the opposite way. Power numbers are going to come.”
Colbert focuses on using the entire field, going the direction of the pitch. He has hit long balls from left-center field to right-center field, following a gap-to-gap attitude, according to Rodenkirk.
“I’m just seeing the ball real well,” said Colbert, who was hitting .341 before Monday. “I just try to put the ball in play and see what happens.”
Thumb injuries have affected Colbert, causing him to miss more than a month last season. He also endured another during the spring and has played through it, moving to first base instead of playing catcher.
“He’s been a warrior with it. We’re lucky to have him,” said Rodenkirk, complimenting Colbert’s leadership skills. “He came up clutch in a lot of games. I think the guys rally around him with that.”
Lucas Larsen had a two-run double to set up the winning run. Spencer Van Scoyoc added an RBI single in the seventh, putting Jefferson on the board in the third with a run-scoring double. Ben Koering and Jared Eivins added singles and runs during the late rally in the opener.
Jefferson fought to the final out, which is a lesson learned from the Metro tournament final against Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
“These guys kept battling and battling,” Rodenkirk said. “We’ve been talking ever since that Kennedy game, nothing is over until it counts. … I give them all the credit. They have worked hard before and after practice. They are starting to get rewarded for it.”
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