Prep Baseball

Seeking turnaround season, Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball off to promising start

Cougars sweep Jefferson to improve to 4-0

Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball coach Bret Hoyer. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball coach Bret Hoyer. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — In this most abnormal prep baseball season, there is one thing that actually has returned to normal. Cedar Rapids Kennedy is winning again.

The Cougars swept a pair Tuesday night from Cedar Rapids Jefferson on the westside, 4-3 and 18-8.

Kennedy has a 4-0 record a week-plus into this thing, which is a welcomed sight for a traditionally excellent program that uncharacteristically struggled the previous three years. The Cougars were 15-23 last season, 13-25 in 2018 and 15-22 in 2017.

That’s unheard of stuff under Bret Hoyer, one of the best head coaches this state has seen at the Class 4A level.

“To me, it’s really important,” said Kennedy’s Zac Stallman, of having a turnaround season. ”Not only because it’s my senior year, but Coach always tells us to leave the program in better shape when you leave than when you enter. If we really turn it around this year, we’d be leaving it in better shape than it has been.”

Kennedy never trailed in this doubleheader, scoring three times in the first inning of the opener and holding on. Jefferson (0-4) stranded the tying run at second base in the sixth and at third in the seventh.

Relief pitcher Braden Dolphin pitched out of both jams, striking out consecutive batters to end the game.

Kennedy scored a run in the top of the first of the nightcap, built a 6-1 lead, saw Jefferson rally within 6-5, then put things completely away with an eight-run sixth. Stallman led off that inning with a solo home run to center.

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Sophomore Dylan Davis had a two-run double in the first game and three hits in the second. Kennedy also starts a pair of other impressive 10th-graders in Mason Behn and Gavin Smith.

“We’ve just been able to do a little bit more, play a little bit better than the people we are playing,” Hoyer said. “We’ve been just a little bit more consistent than they have been. People we’ve played have done some good things against us, we’ve just happened to have done it a little more frequently against them than they have against us.”

Jefferson got a pair of run-scoring hits from yet another sophomore, Kaden Haller, in the opener. The J-Hawks’ eight runs in the nightcap came despite getting only three hits.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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