116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn-Mar has found a way to win games.
The Lions are 7-2 over their last nine, despite finishing the regular season with a losing record. Most importantly, the Lions are 2-0 in the postseason.
“We’ve had our ups and downs,” Linn-Mar’s Kane Deutmeyer said. “Right now, we’re up, so just keep it rolling.”
Linn-Mar scored four runs in an unusual sixth inning and outlasted Cedar Rapids Kennedy, 8-7, in a Class 4A Substate 4 semifinal Monday night at Herkelman Field. The Lions posted two one-run victories in as many playoff games.
“They responded well the last two rounds,” Linn-Mar Coach Kyle Rodenkirk said. “They’re starting to believe in each other and what they have. It’s fun.”
The seesaw affair had five lead changes through the first 5 1/2 innings. The Cougars (22-16) received solo home runs from Dylan Davis and Brenden Groth. Davis’ came with two outs in a two-run third. Groth’s came an inning later. Wiley Sullivan added a two-out, two-run single in the fifth to give Kennedy its last lead at 5-4.
The sixth, however, tilted the scales in the Lions’ favor, but it wasn’t how they planned it.
Linn-Mar (17-22) sent 10 batters to the plate and turned a one-run deficit into an 8-5 lead. After a strikeout to start the inning, Linn-Mar sandwiched a Deutmeyer walk with two errors to load the bases. Zach Wray stepped to the plate and brought in a run to tie it when a pitch skimmed his thigh.
McKade Jelinek drew a bases-loaded walk and Dominic Olhava’s high chopper to the mound was another to bring in another run. Isaac Anderson walked to load the bases again, but a passed ball on a dropped-third strike allowed pinch-hitter Andrew Knipper to reach and Wray to race home.
“We just competed,” Wray said. “We put our body on the line. It worked.”
When it was all said and done, the Lions managed four runs on no hits and nothing made it out of the infield.
“This is my 18th year coaching and I thought I had seen it all,” Rodenkirk said. “I haven’t seen anything like that but we’ll take it.”
Linn-Mar also took a 1-0 lead in the first on a Wray single to score Deutmeyer. Olhava and Isaac Anderson opened the fourth with consecutive doubles to spark a three-run inning for a 4-2 lead.
Kennedy pulled within a run in the bottom half. Trevor Scott’s flyball to center landed in the middle of a trio of Lions, scoring Groth and Mason Behn.
The Cougars had their opportunity with a two-out rally in the seventh, moving the tying run to second. Deutmeyer stopped a hard shot, gathered it and raced for the bag, sliding into first to end the game. The victory pile quickly started in the infield.
“It was a hard-hit ball,” Deutmeyer said. “I was glad I could chest it up and get there in time.
“It was satisfying when it happened.”
Henry Read earned the win in relief and Olhava closed the game for the save. Linn-Mar travels to top-ranked Pleasant Valley (32-4) in the substate final Wednesday.