CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Xavier knows how to win and it is evident in the recent state title trophies in football and basketball.
The Saints transferred some of that grit and competitiveness to the opener of the baseball season.
Xavier rallied in its final at-bat and regained in the lead in extra innings, edging Linn-Mar, 5-4, in the quarterfinals of the Bob Vrbicek Metro tournament Monday night at Cedar Rapids Washington.
Senior Gabe Lux lofted a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring pinch-runner Hunter Hartgrave for the decisive run.
“Gutsy sums it up,” first-year Xavier head coach Dan Halter said. “The biggest thing is I know these guys will compete. That was real impressive to see on the first night.”
Success in other sports pays dividends. The Saints relied on that experience to overcome the challenge from the Lions.
“These guys are awesome,” Lux said. “We face a lot of challenges in other sports and that prepares us really well or games like this. Guys are just looking to do their job. They don’t really care what the score is.”
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Linn-Mar broke open a scoreless game with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Tyler Oberbroeckling singled to lead off the inning and scored because of an errant throw on a sacrifice bunt. The Lions looked in control after Dan Coughlin’s two-run double.
The Saints received an immediate boost, opening the top of the seventh with consecutive doubles from Will Angstman and Bryson Bastian to get on the board. Xavier’s No. 9 batter Nick Schmucker and Lux extended the inning with two-out walks to load the bases.
Kyle Moeder stepped to the plate and hit a liner to right center, driving in Bastian and Schmucker to tie the game.
“That all started with my teammates to lead the inning off,” Moeder said. “I was just trying to stay relaxed and composed. I wanted to do whatever I could for my team to try and deliver.”
Quinn Schulte drew a bases-loaded walk to score Lux, giving the Saints a 4-3 lead. Xavier sent 10 batters to the plate in the seventh after being shut out through the first six.
“The energy in the dugout tonight was incredible,” Moeder said. “It helped give us a boost at the end.”
Linn-Mar forced extra innings on Coughlin’s RBI groundout in the seventh. Coughlin had three RBIs, while Nate Annis had two hits to lead the Lions.
Xavier loaded the bases on three straight walks in the eighth. Lux praised his teammates for getting in scoring position and tried to place the ball in the outfield.
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“Any way that works,” Lux said. “I’m not trying to crush the ball. You have to shorten it up a little and just do a job. I got a good pitch and was able to get it out to the green.”
Xavier starter Ryan Hosch threw five innings and Braden Albert tossed three innings of relief for the victory. The pair combined to allow six hits.
“We wanted Hosch to go deep tonight,” Halter said. “He did a really good job. He had a good start and if we had gotten some runs up for him who knows how it ends up.
“Braden, this is his first varsity action and first time on this stage as a junior, to come in with that pressure and respond, I couldn’t be happier for him.”
Cedar Rapids Washington 2, Marion 1
Drew Christensen smacked a two-out single, scoring Draedan Spang for the winning run in the bottom of the seventh and lifting the Warriors over the Class 3A seventh-ranked Indians in the quarterfinals of the Bob Vrbicek Metro tournament.
Washington started the winning rally with an infield single from Spang with two outs. Spang moved to second on a balk. After a walk to Lincoln Riley, Christensen delivered the winning line drive to center field.
The game was a pitchers’ duel between the Warriors' Jacob Bockenstedt and Marion’s Rick Atkins. Bockenstedt allowed one run on two hits in five innings, striking out 12 batters. Atkins was equally impressive, going the distance for Marion, striking out 11 and giving up just five hits.
Marion opened the scoring in the second. Trevor Paulsen singled and scored on Gage Franck’s sacrifice fly. Washington’s first run was unearned. Riley was hit by a pitch and scored when Christensen reached on a two-out error.
Washington will host in a semifinal Tuesday, starting at 7 p.m.
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