Prep Baseball

Cedar Rapids Jefferson sweeps Linn-Mar in Kyle Rodenkirk's return

J-Hawks earn 4-2, 10-7 wins against Lions, former coach

Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Zach Grant drives in a run during the Bob Vrbicek Metro Baseball Tournament at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May. 23, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Jefferson's Zach Grant drives in a run during the Bob Vrbicek Metro Baseball Tournament at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, May. 23, 2018. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — The mark of a good team is finding a way to win.

So, when Cedar Rapids Jefferson stared down a late deficit, the J-Hawks stayed composed and began chipping away one at-bat at a time.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re up or down, we preach to the boys to be even-keel,” Jefferson co-head coach Terry Schneekloth said. “There’s always a chance to win a baseball game. My favorite saying of all-time is it’s never over until it’s over. That works when you’re ahead and behind.”

The eighth-ranked J-Hawks scored nine runs in the bottom of the sixth for a 10-7 victory, sweeping Linn-Mar in a Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division doubleheader Friday night at Jefferson. The J-Hawks (8-1, 4-0) won the opener, 4-2.

Linn-Mar scored five straight runs for a 5-1 lead in the nightcap. The Lions received an RBI single from Josh Hilsenbeck and two more runs scored when the ball was misplayed. Hilsenbeck scored on Cole Wright’s sac fly to close the top of the fifth. Linn-Mar added another in the sixth.

In the bottom of the sixth, the J-Hawks stormed back. Devin Hulsing led off with the first of three consecutive singles to load the bases. A fielder’s choice by Brayden Frazier scored Hulsing.

After Drake Frazier was hit by a pitch and Zach Grant followed with an RBI single. The J-Hawks recorded four straight walks and RBI singles from Willie Guy and Brayden Frazier to cap the big inning.

The J-Hawks showed their depth and toughness with the rally.

“It only takes a little bit of a rally to get started and good things start to happen,” Schneekloth said. “It tends to snowball a bit.”

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Hulsing waited patiently for about 12 innings to get his chance. He even had a delay when his first plate appearance was interrupted when the third out in the fifth was made on the base paths. He came through when it was his time to deliver, igniting the rally and walking to bring in the go-ahead run.

“It feels good,” Hulsing said. “Going up to bat, I took a couple deep breaths. I knew the situation and what was going on. I stayed at the medium and focused on that at-bat. It turned into a single to rally the team.”

T.J. Kuennen had two hits and an RBI to lead Jefferson in the nightcap. Connor Van Scoyoc had a two-run homer and Brayden Frazier had an RBI double for the J-Hawks in the opener.

Hilsenbeck had four hits to lead Linn-Mar (4-5, 1-3).

“Josh has done a good job defensively for us,” Linn-Mar Coach Kyle Rodenkirk said. “He’s starting to swing the stick a little bit now. He’s shown good leadership.”

Jefferson’s sweep ruined the return of Rodenkirk, a Jefferson alum who coached the J-Hawks until last season before taking over the Lions.

“It was fun to be back,” Rodenkirk said. “It was mixed emotions.

“I was really glad to be back.”

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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