116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS – Linn-Mar is trying to transform a loss into a positive.
The Lions will have to face the rest of the season without senior dynamo and University of Iowa signee Coy Sarsfield, who collided with a teammate in the outfield and suffered a broken leg Thursday. They will have to overcome the absence of the all-stater’s presence, talent and leadership on the field.
So far, Linn-Mar has risen to the new challenge, winning four of the last five games after a sweep of host Cedar Rapids Washington in a Mississippi Valley Conference baseball doubleheader Monday night. The Lions won the opener, 11-0, and the nightcap, 16-0, in four innings.
Linn-Mar Coach Kyle Rodenkirk addressed the team after Thursday’s accident. The Lions are now 7-4 overall and 6-1 in the MVC.
“I said our thoughts and prayers are with Coy but I said this is a chance for some other guys to step up,” Rodenkirk said. “I’m proud of the way the guys are competing right now. They’re making the game fun and that’s how it should be. We’re getting some guys to step up.”
Sarsfield has been the heart and soul for the team, filling numerous roles. The Lions are rallying for the senior leader, who underwent surgery.
“It was tough watching it,” Linn-Mar senior Kane Deutmeyer said. “It hurt all of us. We all just want to perform and do well for him.”
Linn-Mar was dominant in its second straight conference sweep. The Lions dropped Western Dubuque twice on Friday and blanked the Warriors Monday.
Collin Streff and Dom Olhava provided quality starts to earn wins. Streff struck out nine in 6 1/3 innings. Carson Recker recorded the final two outs and the duo did not allow a Washington base runner to reach third.
The Lions needed the strong outings after seven games last week.
“We needed that,” Rodenkirk said. “Last week was a long week. We had seven games last week. It was nice to get two guys in there instead of who are we pitching next.”
Dylan Page’s RBI single in the first scored Henry Read and Greg Gerst singled and scored in the fifth in Game 1. The Lions pulled away with nine runs in the final two innings, including five in the seventh.
Olhava worked all four innings of the nightcap, allowing just one hit and just two runners in scoring position.
“I feel like I can hit any spot when I’m at my best,” Olhava said. “I’m very focused.”
Olhava also moved into the leadoff spot that was held by Sarsfield. He finished with five hits, four runs and four RBIs. He had three hits in the second game, including an RBI single and a two-run double in the 13-run fourth inning when the Lions sent 18 batters to the plate.
“It puts a little pressure on me,” Olhava said, “but I think I’m doing my best to fill his spot.”
All nine starters had at least one hit in Game 2, including two each from Jacob Dooley and Gavin Johnston. Read had three hits in Game 1 and Manny Weiss added two for the Lions.
“The biggest thing is pitching and defense,” Rodenkirk said. “I think the bats will be there for us. We have some things we have to clean up like anybody. The guys are rolling right now. It’s fun.”
Erich Rinderknecht had two hits to lead Washington (2-10, 1-8).