CEDAR RAPIDS — Baseball diehards will tell you the allure of regular visits to the ballpark is in part due to the chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.
Like Wednesday night at Cedar Rapids Kennedy, for instance.
It’s unusual to see a guy foul a ball off that completely obliterates a light on a pole. That’s what Zac Stallman of the Cougars did in the sixth inning of the nightcap of this Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader, sending glass everywhere between home plate and first base, a la “The Natural.”
Then there was this little tidbit. Kennedy batters were hit by a pitch seven, yes, seven, times in the game by Iowa City West pitchers.
Yet West won, 14-10. Crazy stuff from a crazy season.
“That’s definitely working for it,” said West’s Benjamin Vander Leest. “That was definitely a game where we needed a lot of grit to get through it. A lot of toughness.”
Kennedy won the opener, 7-2, behind strong starting pitching from Braden Hoyer, two doubles and two RBIs from Kaden Waack and a three-run homer from Dillon Davis. The Cougars are 10-4.
This was the first victory for West (4-6) since a sweep June 25 of Cedar Rapids Jefferson. The Trojans lost twice to No. 5-ranked Dubuque Hempstead and had back-to-back twinbills postponed because of COVID-19 concerns for their opponents.
“I told them we really needed that,” said West Coach Charlie Stumpff. “It’s been forever. We missed (Dubuque) Wahlert, we missed Linn-Mar (doubleheaders). You know, we’re different this year, but we play real hard, I think. We’ve competed against everybody ... It hasn’t exactly been chopped liver we’ve lost to. But at some point, you need to win.“
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Vander Leest had the second game’s biggest hit, a three-run double to the gap in left-center field in the second that gave West the lead for good, 5-2. He went 3-for-3 with a walk, a sacrifice fly, three runs scored and four RBIs.
“I’d say we kind of lacked (toughness) the first game,” Vander Leest said. “I think the heat kind of got us down, and we need to push through that better. The second game, we came out alive, came out hot.”
Marcus Morgan walked three times, doubled and scored four times for West. He was one of five Trojans pitchers in the second game, lasting an inning as starter.
Stumpff mentioned the grit of cleanup hitter Will Hoeft, who had two hits, a walk and two RBIs. This is his first time playing baseball since his freshman year, as he spent the previous two seasons wrestling during the summer.
Stallman had three hits, other than his one on the lights, for Kennedy. Mason Behn had two hits and two RBIs.
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