116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Dylan Muszynski prides himself on always being ready.
The Linn-Mar freshman right-fielder has been in and out of the lineup this season as Coach Kyle Rodenkirk used a variety of combinations in the outfield.
In Monday night's Class 4A substate baseball semifinal against Iowa City West, Muszynski showed his value at the plate and in the field.
At the plate, he went 2-for-3 with a run scored. In the field, he made a pair of spectacular diving catches as the Lions posted a 7-2 victory before a packed house at the Linn-Mar Baseball and Softball Complex.
Linn-Mar (24-16), seeded second, will play at top-seed West Des Moines Dowling (24-14) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Maroons advanced with a 15-0 first-round win over Marshalltown last Friday.
The Lions had just taken a 6-2 lead after scoring four runs in the bottom of the fourth. In the fifth, West (20-20) got a one-out single from Noah DeSaulniers. Mitch Frey followed with a line drive to right-center field that was ticketed for the gap.
Muszynski had other ideas. He took off on a dead sprint toward the gap and dove away from the infield to rob Frey. Later in the game, he made another diving catch running in on a short liner to end the sixth inning.
“I've been coaching high school baseball for 18 years and I've had a lot of good outfielders,” Rodenkirk said. “That first catch he made, I don't think I've even seen a high school kid make a catch like he made. That was very impressive and he did some good things out of the nine spot as well.”
When a ball heads his direction in the air, Muszynski has one thought.
“Every time I see the ball, I try to get a good jump on it,” he said. “I'm always looking to make a play anyway I can.”
Jackson Norton took over on the mound after the leadoff batter reached in the third inning. He retired 15 of the 17 batters he faced, allowing a single and a walk while striking out five.
“I had to come in quick so I didn't have much time to think about it,” he said. “I just tried to throw strikes and (Muszynski) just made plays out there and the rest of the defense helped out too.”
Norton (5-1) has been solid all season for the Lions.
“Norton competed his tail off,” Rodenkirk said. “He's been doing that the second half of the season for us. I'm really happy for him.”
The Lions had some timely hits and took advantage of some West errors. McKade Jelinek's two-run double was the key hit in a four-run fourth that gave the Lions a cushion. Jelinek and Ashr Harris each had two hits.
Linn-Mar, in a substate final for the fourth time in the last five years, will be looking for its first state appearance since 2017.
“We know we have a tough challenge with Dowling,” Rodenkirk said. “We've been playing well and we have some momentum going. Hopefully it carries over to Wednesday.”