116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION – Cedar Rapids Prairie received votes in the preseason coaches poll.
The Hawks are going to earn many more the next time they are totaled.
Prairie earned its third straight victory over a ranked foe, downing Class 3A third-ranked Marion, 15-5, in six innings of the Bob Vrbicek Metro baseball tournament championship Tuesday night at Perfect Game Field of Prospect Meadows. The title was the Hawks’ first since 2016.
“We wanted to prove a point,” Prairie senior Colton Forslund said. “That’s exactly what we did. It was good.”
The Hawks were just outside the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association’s top 10 in 4A, but put up double-digit runs against 3A No. 10 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 4A No. 10 Cedar Rapids Kennedy and the Indians (2-1). Two were by mercy rule.
“We took that to light a fire under our butts and get us going,” Prairie leadoff hitter Bronx Lewis said. “It gave us confidence going into those games.”
Prairie Coach James Nelson agreed they probably garnered some attention with the early-season tournament win, averaging 13 runs a game. He doesn’t mind being overlooked as well.
“I’m OK with not getting them,” Nelson said with a laugh. “The kids were a little salty about it. Not too bad and I said you have to go out and prove it. You’re better off that way anyway.”
Two big innings propelled Prairie (3-0). Twenty-three batters went to the plate by the end of the second inning.
After Marion scored two in the top of the first, Prairie answered with four in the bottom half. Lewis started things, followed by walks to Forslund and Cal Sullivan. Nate Keiper’s two-run single tied the game. A hit batsman and consecutive bases-loaded walks put Prairie ahead.
The Hawks capitalized on Marion control problems, drawing nine total free passes. More than half resulted in runs. They also belted 11 hits, waiting and jumping on pitches in the zone.
“They’re playing loose and relaxed,” Nelson said. “They’re getting after it. On the other side, they are calm, confident and not doing too much.”
Prairie broke the game open in the eight-run second. Noah Day added a two-run double and Caden Richards followed with an RBI single. Ten straight batters reached base and seven consecutive scored.
“When it rains it pours,” Lewis said. “We got one good at-bat after another, so when one guy gets going we follow after that.”
Lewis led the way with three hits, two RBIs and two runs. Forslund and Richards had two hits and two RBIs, while Brandon Vlcko, Keiper, Day and Richards drove in two runs apiece.
“This offseason, we’ve just been working on offense, because our defense was already strong last year,” Forslund said. “Coach put in a great game plan of hunting fastballs. We’ve been doing it so far this tournament. It feels great.”
Myles Davis tallied a team-high three hits and two RBIs for Marion. Gage Franck scored twice.