Kennedy tops ninth-ranked Jefferson in eight innings

Dralle's hustle helps score winning run

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Kennedy earned a little revenge.

The Cougars used an extra inning to reverse the outcome from the previous day.

Cedar Rapids Kennedy defeated Class 4A ninth-ranked Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 4-3, in eight innings of a Mississippi Valley Conference Valley Division baseball game Tuesday night at Lower Kingston.

The Cougars have won five of their last six games, including a victory over previously top-ranked Johnston.

“It’s obviously a big boost of confidence,” Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer said. “We feel how we did on Saturday with Johnston and North Scott and to get another top-five team on their home field, it’s a big shot in the arm for these guys.”

Tyler Dralle’s hustle gave Kennedy the lead in the eighth. He led off with a bunt single. Dralle darted from first to third on Jacob Henry’s sacrifice bunt.

“I saw the third baseman playing back,” Dralle said. “I thought why not and give it a try. We needed base runners.”

His instincts took over on the base paths when Henry made his own call to lay down the sacrifice.

“I was rounding second and saw the third baseman and pitcher both at the ball,” Dralle said. “I was like I might as well.”

Jackson Behn lofted a sacrifice fly to center and Dralle dove in just in front of the throw from Jefferson’s Spencer Van Scoyoc. Bryce Church retired Jefferson in order in the eighth to secure the victory.

Hoyer said he was thrilled with the way the Cougars played. He said they played well in Monday’s loss, but made some mistakes that they rebounded from Tuesday.

“High school kids are going to make mistakes,” Hoyer said. “This is a game of failure. You have to learn to deal with the failures that are inevitably going to come your way in any ballgame. We did a better job of this (Tuesday) than we did (Monday).”

Kennedy captured its first lead in the seventh. Church and Nick Duehr started the rally with consecutive singles. Church scored on Derek Girling’s ground out to shortstop, tying it at two apiece. The Cougars grabbed a 3-2 lead when Duehr raced home on a wild pitch.

“We got guys in scoring position and couldn’t quite get the big hit,” Hoyer said. “We felt we were hitting some balls hard.

“We just kept the right approach at the plate. We just like to think eventually the runs will come.”

Van Scoyoc ripped a solo home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh to force extra innings.

The Cougars offense was dormant until the sixth. Dralle opened with a walk and scored on Jacob Henry’s double to the gap. Jefferson caught Henry in a rundown, tagging him out before he reached third and limiting the damage with two straight groundouts.

The J-Hawks received a boost from catcher Caleb Stekl in the second inning. Stekl belted a solo home run over the left-field fence, giving Jefferson a 1-0 lead.

Stekl had spent part of the season unable to hit in the lineup with a bruised hand. He has returned, hitting his third home run of the season.

Kennedy threatened in the fourth. The Cougars loaded the bases with one out when Matt Berst was hit by a pitch and Dralle and Behn singles. Jefferson starter Jason Hunt buckled down, striking out Anthony Alepra with a breaking ball and getting a fly out from Church to end the inning.

Kennedy returned the favor, thwarting Jefferson’s bid to extend its 1-0 lead in the bottom half. The J-Hawks loaded the bases with two outs on two walks and a hit batsmen. Berst, Kennedy’s catcher, picked courtesy runner Jacob Beaton off first for the third out.

The J-Hawks added to their lead in the fifth, capitalizing on a couple Kennedy miscues. Manny Olutunde hit a one-out single. He advanced to third on an errant pickoff throw. He scored when Jared Eivins’ grounder skirted under the glove of the shortstop, making it 2-0.

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