CEDAR RAPIDS — Not this time. Not even close.
Connor Van Scoyoc and his Cedar Rapids Jefferson teammates made sure there would be no massive upset in their Class 4A substate first-round baseball game Friday night. Van Scoyoc threw six innings of one-hit ball, and Jeff scored three times in the first en route to a dominating 8-0 win over Cedar Rapids Washington at the J-Hawk diamond.
Sixth-ranked Jefferson (27-11) advances to a substate final Wednesday night against either Cedar Rapids Kennedy or Western Dubuque. Such a different feeling for these guys from a year ago, when they also were top seeded but stunned in their postseason opener at home by sixth-seeded North Scott,
“It was front and center in our minds,” said Jeff catcher Caleb Stekl. “It was not brought up by the coaches, but we wanted to do it for the seniors. For all the guys who were on that team last year, we wanted to get past this game. This was the biggest game.”
Stekl doubled in a pair of runs to get the J-Hawks off and running early. They peppered Wash starting pitcher Jacob Bockenstedt for 10 hits, scoring in five of the six innings they batted.
And their best player wasn’t even a part of the onslaught, either. Spencer Van Scoyoc (the Arizona State signee and Toronto Blue Jays draft pick) went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
“It was a good, complete game by the whole team,” said Jefferson Coach Kyle Rodenkirk. “We didn’t have to utilize our small-ball game, which was good. Guys were driving the ball. Defensively we made the plays behind Connor. Just a complete game. It was good to see the guys not rely on Spencer when he didn’t have a good night at the plate. He’ll bounce back. It was good to see the guys rally around him.”
Connor Van Scoyoc retired the first 11 batters, hitting sophomore Brady Bunten in the helmet with a two-out pitch in the fourth. An error and walk filled the bases, but Van Scoyoc retired his pitching counterpart on a grounder to third to end the threat, and Wash (17-22) didn’t come close to scoring after that.
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Alex Stockmaster’s leadoff single in the fifth was the Warriors’ lone hit. Spencer Van Scoyoc relieved his brother in the seventh and struck out the side.
“The main thing is we won,” said Connor Van Scoyoc, a sophomore who walked two and struck out five. “That’s what we expected to do. After last year, I mean, not good. We didn’t want the same thing to happen. We really had the expectation of coming in tonight and getting the win. We didn’t talk about it too much. Just enough.”
“He’s only a sophomore, so we try to watch the mileage on his arm,” Rodenkirk said. “But he’s a gamer. He’s got a different mentality than Spencer does. That’s kind of why we made the decision to start him tonight. It worked out good. We’ll see what happens Wednesday.”
Rodenkirk called Connor “a bulldog.” Tyler Roeder had three hits, Stekl and ninth-place hitter Jacob Beaton two apiece.
The loss should not put a damper on a turnaround season for Washington. The Warriors won just eight times in 2015, more than doubling that output despite top hitter Trey Leonard (a University of Louisville commit) playing on a traveling team.
Only three seniors started Friday night.
“We’re finally getting numbers (out),” said Coach Scott Brune. “We had a lot of young guys playing important spots, and they produced. I’m looking forward to the future. I think we have bright things ahead of us.”
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