SOLON — Simpler is better and Cedar Rapids Xavier has turned it into a winning formula.
The Saints have relied on the basics to become one of the hottest prep baseball teams.
“The pitchers are throwing strikes, the defense is playing clean and offensively we’re not trying to do too much,” Xavier Coach Dan Halter said. “We’re not doing anything magic. There are no magic words said. We are just executing.”
Class 3A sixth-ranked Xavier was solid at the plate, on the mound and in the field, winning its 11th straight game with a 10-1 victory over No. 5 Solon Tuesday night at the Solon Nature and Recreation Center.
The Saints improved to 24-9, extending the streak that began June 18. Xavier has now outscored opponents 83-18 during the stretch
“We’re really focusing with tunnel vision,” Xavier senior Gabe Lux said. “We try to block everything out and try to focus on one pitch at a time.
“We just took it one game at a time. All of a sudden we looked at it and “Oh, we’re doing something special here.’”
Pitching has been paramount as well. The Saints have tossed six shutouts over the last 11 games. Xavier has allowed just two runs in the last four contests.
“We just trust in our defense the most,” Xavier starter Bryson Bastian said. “We’re throwing strikes and trust in our defense to make great plays.”
Bastian moved to 5-0, throwing five shutout innings against a Spartans offense that ranks second in 3A in runs. He allowed just four hits and struck out six. Braden Albert pitched the final two innings in relief.
“I just focused on keeping the ball low,” Bastian said. “I wanted to make them put it in play. No free bases.”
The Saints pounded 14 hits, receiving at least one hit from seven starters. Seven Saints scored at least once and six had at least one RBI.
Five Xavier runs came with two outs. The Saints focus on trying to extend innings and getting the next batter in the box.
“I think it’s just a confidence thing,” Lux said. “Everybody believes in each other. We’re all one team. We are trying to help each other out and do it for each other.”
Patrick McGinn and Garrett Ries led the way with three hits and two RBIs apiece. Ries had an RBI single to score Lux after his leadoff walk in the first. He added an RBI double in the third to make it 2-0.
Lux and Quinn Miller each had two hits and drove in two runs. Miller hit a two-run single to right field, giving Xavier a 4-0 edge in the third. Lux had a two-run double in the seventh.
McGinn doubled and scored on Kyle Moeder’s RBI single in the fourth. He added RBI singles in the fifth and seventh.
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“It’s been a different guy every night,” Halter said. “One through five have been pretty steady for most of the year. Six through nine the last few weeks have been going (well). Now, we’ve got depth.”
Solon (25-9) received a solo home run from Adam Bock in the sixth. Bock finished with two hits, including a double, and a walk. The Spartans finished with four hits.
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