MARION — Timing is everything.
Cedar Rapids Jefferson seemed to come through at just the right moment, whether it was a big blast from Drake Frazier, a rally-starting hit from Willie Guy, an opponent’s late-game miscue or Jaxson Kevitt’s throw to cut down the potential game-tying run.
The Class 4A eighth-ranked J-Hawks capitalized on each of those plays to escape with a 2-1 victory in eight innings over Linn-Mar in the first round of the Bob Vrbicek Metro baseball tournament Monday night at Oak Ridge Middle School.
“We caught the break at the right time,” Jefferson Coach Terry Schneekloth said. “Hats off (to Linn-Mar). They played and pitched a heck of a game.
“You look at the scoreboard and the columns. You can say they out-hit us but we won the category that mattered.”
The game-winning run came at the expense of the Linn-Mar defense. Guy stood at third with two outs. The Lions misplayed a two-out grounder — the only one of three errors that hurt them — that scored Guy, who was running on contact.
“I just headed for home and then I heard the crowd scream,” Guy said. “That was a real good momentum swing right there.”
Actually, momentum started a couple batters earlier when Guy dropped a double down the line to get into scoring position. He was only one of three J-Hawks to reach second base and was looking for extra bases immediately.
“I was looking to set the table a little bit,” Guy said. “I was trying to put a ball in play. I have confidence in my guys behind me, so I’m just trying to get on base.”
Linn-Mar rallied in the bottom of the inning. Mark Rodenberg reached on an error to start the inning and moved to second on Coy Sarsfield’s sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Eli Scott hit a single to center, but Kevitt gathered himself after bobbling the ball and threw home to cut down pinch-runner Sam Wilson at the plate for the final out.
“I think I was overthinking the throw, which made me bobble it,” Kevitt said. “I’m glad our catcher (Spencer Smith) was clutch and got the tag.
“We practice that a lot. It’s just nature to throw it in to home.”
The J-Hawks managed just two hits through seven innings, but Frazier tied the game, 1-1, in the sixth. He belted a towering solo home run over the left-field fence in the top of the sixth.
“The clutch home run by Drake Frazier,” Schneekloth said. “It looked like we weren’t hitting anything and then all of a sudden ‘Boom!’
“He’s an outstanding athlete and baseball player. He makes our team better because of the way he plays the game. He’s a young man who is really coming into his own, right now.”
Starter Chase Keeney and Jon Cross combined to throw a five-hitter, allowing the one earned run.
Linn-Mar took an early lead in the second. Sarsfield smacked a single and scored on Scott’s RBI double.
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