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CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Kennedy pitcher Sammy Lizarraga entered the season with some new-found velocity, but has learned to keep his confidence in check for the streaking Cougars.
Lizarraga retired the first 10 batters he faced and closed the game with three consecutive strikeouts for a five-inning whitewash of Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 11-1, in a Mississippi Valley Conference baseball game last night at Herkelman Field.
“I just threw strikes,” Lizarraga said. “Hit the mitt, made them put the ball in play and my defense made plays.”
The performance resembled nothing like his previous effort against the J-Hawks, a 20-10 Kennedy win May 27 at Veterans Memorial Stadium in which Lizarraga was tagged for eight hits and seven runs in five innings.
“Maybe I was a little overconfident last time,” Lizarraga said.
Lizarraga improved to 6-0 on the mound, yielding just a pair of fourth-inning singles and an unearned run. The junior finished with six strikeouts without walking a batter.
“He’s added about six miles an hour to his fastball in the off-season,” Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer said. “That certainly makes it tough on high school hitters when you’re throwing 85 to 87.”
Lizarraga also got things started for the Cougars at the plate in the first inning with the first of a pair of his two-run singles. He later added an RBI groundout to finish with five RBIs, raising his total to a team-high 30.
Kennedy (25-3, 19-2 MVC) broke the game open with a four-run third inning, and added five more in the fourth. Zach Daniels tallied three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored.
“We hit some balls pretty solid,” Hoyer said. “The low line-drive types and drove it through the outfield — strung some hits together.”
Kennedy, ranked third in Class 4A and winners of 15 of 16 games, remains a game ahead of top-ranked Dubuque Hempstead in the Mississippi Division. Kennedy hosts the Mustangs next Monday in an anticipated doubleheader originally scheduled for June 30.
Sophomore Spencer Van Scoyoc singled and scored a run for Jefferson (18-12, 12-9 MVC), losers of six straight.
The teams play again today at 5 at Jefferson.