116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — Marion baseball is a work in progress, according to Coach Steve Fish.
The veteran member of the 700-win club would be concerned if the Indians weren’t looking to improve, even though they just ascended to the top spot in the second installment of the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Class 3A state rankings, released Monday.
“We also know we still have a long way to go,” Fish said. “We still need to get better. We just need to get better every night, no matter who we’re playing, whether it’s Denny’s Muffler Yankees (from the movie “Bad News Bears”) or the New York Yankees.”
Marion has posted a 12-1 start with its lone setback to Cedar Rapids Prairie, which jumped to seventh in the 4A poll after an 8-0 start.
The Indians have reached the state semifinals the last two seasons. Fish couldn’t recall the last time Marion was ranked No. 1, but noted that it hasn’t been at the end of the season when it matters most.
“We have a long ways to go and a lot to work on,” Fish said. “We have some high expectations, but we’re still learning. At practice this morning, we had a whole list of things we have to get better on.
“I’m happy for our kids and the community to get some recognition for baseball. I think we’ve been pretty good over here for a while.”
Marion has displayed a high-octane offense that ranks among the state’s best. The Indians are second in all classes with 137 hits and 205 total bases. They rank third in six offensive categories, including team batting average (.409), runs (157), run differential (101), doubles (31) and triples (8).
Marion is also top-five in RBIs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
“I do like our guys,” Fish said. “I like the way we swing the bat. We won’t go at this clip for a while. Things will settle down, I know that, but we’re capable to get hits.”
Freshman Myles Davis leads the way with a .581 batting average and .620 on-base percentage. Senior Owen Puk is hitting at a .450 clip and is one of five Marion batters over .400. Eight are batting .385 or better.
Puk and sophomore Kaden Frommelt are tied for a team-high 18 RBIs. Frommelt has three home runs, while senior all-stater Gage Franck has 24 runs to lead Marion.
They have shown the ability to grip it and rip it, but not every contest will allow them to swing freely and drive every pitch. Marion will face games where small-ball execution will be needed to win.
“The real test, and I’ve told them, when it comes to tournament time you have to be able to win 2-1 or 3-2,” Fish said. “You have to be able to bunt, hit-and-run and move them.
“The test will be when we have to manufacture a run here or there. We just haven’t had to do that enough.”
FIsh praised the seniors for creating a cohesive atmosphere, meshing players from each grade. He said it has been rewarding to watch some mature and grow into that leadership role.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Fish said. “They understand what team is about. They get along really well for a team that is so mixed with ages.
“A lot of that goes out to our seniors. It starts with Gage Franck and Owen Puk. They’ve been around and dressed for me since they were eighth graders. They have been awesome. They get it.”
Cascade’s Eli Green throws no-no
Cascade’s Eli Green pitched a no-hitter Tuesday in a 4-0 victory over host Iowa City Regina. The senior right-hander struck out 14 batters with just one walk, improving to 2-1 overall with a 1.17 earned-run average.
Green threw 94 pitches, including an “immaculate inning” when he struck out the side on nine pitches in the sixth. He also faced the minimum 21 batters. After his walk in the second, shortstop fielded a grounder up the middle for a double play.
“Eli was in control all game,” Cascade Coach Roamn Hummel told The Gazette. “He was locked in and commanded the zone as well as I’ve seen in a long time. He was always around it.”
The Cougars are 7-2 overall and 6-0 in the River Valley Conference North Division.
New London runs it up
New London scored 37 runs in the first inning against Columbus Community on June 2, winning the contest 37-0, in four innings.
The Tigers (6-0) had 11 hits and drew 16 bases on balls total. Columbus pitchers also hit seven batters and the Wildcats committed three errors.
Carter Allen had three hits and was one of six Tigers to score four times. Allen earned the win, allowing just one hit and striking out 10. Hecniel Rodriguez had a home run, triple and nine RBIs for New London, which received votes in the latest IHSBCA 1A rankings.