CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Jefferson co-head coach Terry Schneekloth had never seen Chase Keeney pitch in competition before Tuesday.
He walked away impressed in his junior right-hander.
Keeney threw a complete game four-hitter, powering Class 4A eighth-ranked Jefferson to a 5-2 victory over No. 5 Cedar Rapids Prairie in the semifinals of the Bob Vrbicek Metro baseball tournament at Cedar Rapids Washington. The J-Hawks will face Washington (2-0) in the championship game Wednesday at Memorial Stadium, starting at 7 p.m.
“He’s just a bulldog out there,” said Schneekloth, who is in his first year as co-head coach with Gordy Nordgren. “He has composure. He knows what he’s doing out on the mound. I was really proud of him.”
Keeney stifled Prairie batters, striking out eight. He varied his pitches and kept the Hawks off balance, facing the minimum three batters in five of the seven innings. He also received some help from the defense, getting an inning-ending double play in the sixth.
“I felt good,” Keeney said. “A few missed balls here and there that got through.
“It was just location.”
Keeney was impressive last season. He finished with an 8-0 record and 1.27 earned-run average, striking out 50 in 55 innings. He is off to another strong start with minor adjustments from a year ago.
“Just a few mechanics here and there,” Keeney said. “Not much of a change.”
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Jefferson (2-0) provided all the run support it needed in the first inning. The J-Hawks drew five walks, including Connor Van Scoyoc’s bases-loaded walk to score Zach Grant. Logan Pady was hit by a pitch on the next at-bat to score T.J. Kuennen, building a 3-0 lead in the top of the first.
Ozzie Meiborg added an RBI single in the third and the J-Hawks tacked on an insurance run in the seventh with three walks and an error. Brayden and Drake Frazier each had two hits to lead Jefferson.
“We’re playing our brand of baseball,” Schneekloth said. “We’re being aggressive. We’re taking advantage of any mistakes the other team makes and we’re not making major mistakes of our own. We’ve been really pleased so far.”
Prairie (1-1) got on the board in the second on Hunter Whinery’s solo home run in the second inning. Levi Usher hit a double and scored on a balk in the fourth for the Hawks.
Washington advanced with a 6-2 victory over Cedar Rapids Xavier in the other semifinal Tuesday night.
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