116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — Maybe the way it went down made it an even tougher loss for Cedar Rapids Xavier’s baseball team to take.
Ah, who’s kidding who: any loss that ends your season is beyond tough.
Dubuque Wahlert scored five runs in the top of the sixth inning to break a tie and eventually outlast Xavier, 10-7, in a Class 3A state tournament semifinal Friday afternoon at Banks Field.
Xavier swept a regular-season doubleheader from Wahlert, so there is that sting. Then consider the Saints got behind five runs real early in this one, rallied for a tie, only to lose late.
“We battled back well,” said Xavier’s Myles Butkowski. “They just put up runs there in the sixth, and that was tough to come back from. It was a great season. We did what we could.”
A long two-run home run off the silver Hawkeye statue well behind the fence in left field by Aaron Savary was the big blow as Wahlert (32-10) scored four immediate runs in the top of the first. Another run in the second made it a 5-0 game.
Xavier (27-13) got back into it with a four-run third, making it a 5-5 game on a Brody Hoffman RBI groundout in the fifth. But Wahlert went right back ahead in the next half-inning with five singles and a Jake Brosius go-ahead double to the fence in right-center field.
The Golden Eagles had 14 hits in the game against three Xavier pitchers, including reliever Drew Proskovec, who took the loss. Very few of the hits were of the cheap variety, if any.
“They just hit it. I don’t know what else to say,” said Xavier Coach Dan Halter. “Give credit to them, they hit the heck out of the ball today. It seemed like they were on just about everything. We gave them a few different looks, in terms of going right, lefty, breaking balls, change of velocities, locations. There were several times we hit our spots, and I thought made our pitch, but they were just on them.”
“Our energy was solid the entire game,” Brosius said. “Winning this game, they ended up beating us twice, they thought it’d be an easy win for them. We knew coming in that we had to get up early. We had to put some runs on the board. That’s what we did.”
Xavier didn’t go easily into the late afternoon. It pieced together another rally in the bottom of the sixth, scoring twice and leaving the bases loaded. Griffin Maloney singled with one out in the seventh against Wahlert reliever Landon Stoll, conjuring up memories of the three-run seventh-inning rally the Saints had to tie and eventually win in extra innings their substate semifinal against Bondurant-Farrar.
But there was no further magic here.
“We’d been there before, done it before,” Halter said. “(Coming back) just shows the character and resiliency of our guys.”
“I couldn’t ask for a better team to play on,” said Xavier’s Aidan Henry, who went 3-for-4 with two RBIs. “These guys are amazing, like brothers to me. The seniors were great mentors. We have to take what they taught us and carry it on to next year.”
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