116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Last year, Josh Strauss lacked control and a consistent tempo on the pitcher's mound.
The Linn-Mar senior hurler displayed plenty of both Tuesday night, which earned the Lions a spot in the championship game of the Bob Vrbicek Metro Baseball Tournament.
'I just slowed it down and tried to locate my pitches better,' said Strauss, who yielded four hits and one run without a walk in five innings as Linn-Mar upended No. 10 Cedar Rapids Prairie, 8-3, in a semifinal game at Prairie High School. 'It just worked out a lot better.'
Linn-Mar (2-0) will play Cedar Rapids Washington (2-0) for the tournament title Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Stadium. The Warriors advanced with a 3-1 victory over Marion.
Strauss, who was 0-3 with a 7.95 ERA in four appearances last season, surrendered a two-out solo home run to Prairie slugger Levi Usher in the top of the first inning. After that, Strauss retired 10 of the next 13 batters as his teammates responded with three-run innings in both the first and third frames.
'Oh, I love it,' Strauss said of the run support. 'It makes me so much more confident.'
Strauss finished with three strikeouts. He did hit two batters in the fifth inning, but managed to escape without allowing another run.
Linn-Mar senior Ryan Lechner collected RBI singles in the first and sixth innings. Reese Phillips was 3-for-3 with an RBI, while Alex Streicher added a two-run single in the third inning.
'Tonight we were able to get the hits with runners in scoring position,' Linn-Mar Coach Chad Lechner said. 'That was the difference there. We were able to put pressure on them, and our kids just did a nice job of putting the ball in play.'
Joe Meyer had a two-run double in the sixth inning for Prairie (1-1). The defending Class 4A state champions will face Marion in the third-place game Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Vets.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy will play Xavier for fifth place after routing Mount Vernon, 11-3, in the consolation bracket.
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