116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Harrison Cook was served a steady diet of curveballs.
It wasn't until the Cedar Rapids Prairie sophomore received a fastball that he was able to feast.
After two unproductive at-bats, Cook smacked a three-run double in the fifth inning and helped the Hawks to a 6-2 victory over Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the first round of the Bob Vrbicek Metro baseball tournament Monday night at Prairie.
The defending Class 4A state champion and 10th-ranked Hawks were locked in a scoreless game before they sent 11 batters to the plate in the six-run frame.
Cook stepped in the batter's box with the bases loaded and one out, striking out in both of his previous at-bats against Kennedy ace Anthony Alepra. He struggled to hit breaking pitches, but connected on a fastball for a double to left field.
'The guys set the stage for me,' Cook said. 'The first two at-bats I saw a lot of curveballs. I got to see that pitch a lot. He threw me a fastball, finally. I got my hands inside and turned on it.'
After an RBI infield single by Matt Lorenz and a stolen base left first base open, Kennedy elected to intentionally walk Levi Usher, who finished 3-for-3 with a double. The Cougars liked their chances against Cook. He doesn't mind pressure situations.
'Levi's a great hitter,' Cook said. 'I saw it coming when I was in the dugout. I thought they were going to walk him to get to me. I had struck out twice and I had to get ready to hit.'
Prairie Coach Todd Rima said Cook showed flashes of hitting in the clutch as a freshman. He said he talked to Cook about his plate appearances and thought he improved each time. Rima liked how Cook rose to the occasion.
'He's going to be in position all year to have an opportunity to drive in runs,' Rima said. 'We really believe he can hit.'
The rally started with Lorenz. With one out and two on, Lorenz fouled off multiple pitches from Alepra. Lorenz battled before hitting a high chopper by the third baseman, who collided with the shortstop, allowing pinch runner Justin Kloubec to score the first run.
'His at-bat was the game changer,' Rima said of Lorenz. 'It was the biggest at-bat of the game. For him to do what he did in that situation, fouling off pitches against that quality of a pitcher, I thought is what won the game.'
Griff Clark added an RBI single and Sam Lockhart had an RBI groundout to cap the scoring for Prairie.
Kennedy managed four hits off starter Darren Kilpatrick, who went five innings. He only faced two extra batters through the first four innings, but walked four. Kilpatrick found a way to get out of innings, relying on a solid defense.
'Our defense picked him up with a couple double plays and then he settled in,' Rima said. 'I don't know if he had his best stuff, because of the walks, but he fought and made some big pitches when he needed to.'
The Cougars got on the board in the bottom of the fifth. Matt Berst hit a two-run double to center, chasing home Chase Becker and Payton McCarty.
Kennedy ran into three outs on the bases, including two in the first inning. The first two innings ended in double plays.
'We got guys on and then we got them out,' Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer said. 'We got ourselves out way too often. It's May. We'll learn from it. We'll get smarter.'
LINN-MAR WINS IN EXTRAS
Linn-Mar advanced to the semifinals of the Bob Vrbicek Metro baseball tournament with a 4-3 victory in eight innings over Mount Vernon Monday at Prairie.
The Lions' Trey Noble scored on a two-out error in the bottom of the eighth.
Linn-Mar got on the board in the second. Reese Phillips and Josh Strauss opened with a single and double, respectively, and both scored.
The Lions trailed by a run in the bottom of the seventh. Ben Diestler hit an RBI double, scoring Kirby Kerr to tie it, 3-3, and force extra innings. Diestler, Kerr and Phillips each had two hits for Linn-Mar, who plays host Prairie in the semifinals Tuesday at 7 p.m.
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