116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
NORTH LIBERTY — Linn-Mar's Zach Wray simply wanted to honor his friend.
Colin Streff made sure that honor will be carried on for at least one more game.
Wray's booming triple was the key blow in a two-run sixth inning while Streff pitched a gritty complete game, lifting the Lions to a 3-2 upset victory over Iowa City Liberty in the opening round of the Class 4A, Substate 4 baseball tournament Friday night.
No. 5-seed Linn-Mar (17-22) advances to the substate semifinal on Monday at 7 p.m. on the road against No. 4-seeded Cedar Rapids Kennedy. The Cougars (22-15) advanced with a 3-0 win over Muscatine.
No. 2-seed Liberty closes its season at 24-13.
Wray switched his number from 15 to 21 for the tournament in tribute to teammate Coy Sarsfield, who missed much of the season after breaking his leg in a June 3 game at Dubuque Hempstead.
"He's my brother," Wray said of Sarsfield. "He went out early due to an unfortunate accident in the outfield and he motivated me all season. This one was for him tonight."
Sarsfield, who will play at the University of Iowa next season, was in the dugout on crutches wearing Wray's No. 15 jersey. The duo will get another opportunity on Monday night to wear those jerseys thanks in large part to Steff's performance.
The senior left-hander worked around three errors, allowing just one earned run. He struck out four, but had many of the Lightning hitters off balance with his breaking ball.
"The key for me was just throwing strikes and getting outs for my team," he said. "Even though we had the errors, we bounced back at the plate and I got it done on the mound."
Streff has been Linn-Mar's ace for two seasons. Lions Coach Kyle Rodenkirk was not surprised with the performance he got from his lefty in the 91-pitch complete game effort.
"I knew it coming in," Rodenkirk said. "You could see it in his eyes during (batting practice), that he was ready to go.
"He's been our workhorse the second half of the season. He's figuring out how to pitch, not just throw and that's the key. My hat's off to all these guys. We've been through so much this year and now hopefully we can continue."
Each team scored in the third inning but Linn-Mar took the lead for good in the sixth. Wray scored the go-ahead run on Kane Deutmeyer's double to left. Pinch runner Greg Gerst scored the third run on a fielder's choice, beating a throw to the plate on an infield chopper.
Liberty scored once in the seventh on Keian Secrist's double to left. With the tying and winning runs on second and third, Streff got Jack Funke on a soft liner back to the mound to end the game, setting off a wild celebration on the infield.
"Kennedy will be ready to go for us," Rodenkirk said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us between now and Monday. "
CLASS 4A SUBSTATE FIRST ROUND
Linn-Mar 3, Iowa City Liberty 2
Linn-Mar 001 002 0 - 3 5 3
Iowa City Liberty 001 000 1 - 2 5 0
Colin Streff and Dylan Page. Ethan O'Donnell, Jack Turgasen (7) and TJ Kimm. WP - Streff (5-3). LP - O'Donnell (5-3)