CEDAR RAPIDS — Midway through the prep baseball season, Braden Albert made the move from relief pitcher to starter.
The senior-year switch bolstered an already-stout pitching staff for Class 3A No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier.
“It is pretty awesome with having four solid starters,” Albert said after the Saints swept 4A No. 9 Linn-Mar, 9-2 and 10-0 in six innings, in a Mississippi Valley Conference doubleheader Monday at Ken Charipar Field. “It really helps out with Monday and Friday games being doubleheaders. It really helps with the rotations week by week and looking forward to that into state.”
Albert improved his record to 5-0 this season by limiting Linn-Mar to two runs and four hits in five innings of a 9-2 win in Game 1. After starting the season with four relief appearances, Albert has allowed seven earned runs in 26 1/3 innings of work as a starter.
“I just had to trust myself,” Albert said. “Go out there and dominate. It has been working pretty well.”
Junior Logan McDermott (5-1) tossed six innings of scoreless, four-hit ball as the Saints routed Linn-Mar in the nightcap. The two victories gave Xavier (30-2, 24-2 MVC) — winner of its last 17 games — its second conference title in a row by virtue of a five-game lead over Western Dubuque in the Mississippi Division with four to play.
“It is crazy to be at this point and to have that wrapped up,” Xavier Coach Dan Halter said. “Just a credit to our guys. They keep working. Keep getting a little bit better every day. Playing with confidence, playing loose and having fun.”
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Isaac Ball drove in four runs for the Saints in Game 1, while senior catcher Garrett Ries threw out three would-be base stealers and also picked off a pair at first base.
Ries clubbed his team-high fifth home run this season in the second game, part of a two-hit, three-RBI effort.
Senior Tyler Oberbroeckling posted an RBI double in the first game for Linn-Mar (23-9, 19-7), which was swept for the second time in the last four days.
AT KEN CHARIPAR FIELD
Class 3A No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier 9-10, 4A No. 9 Linn-Mar 2-0 (2nd, 6)
Linn-Mar 000 200 0—2
C.R. Xavier 011 043 X—9
Ryan Stroschein, Coy Sarsfield, Kyle Schrader and Tyler Oberbroeckling. Braden Albert, Derrick Skala and Garrett Ries. W — Braden Albert (5-0); L — Ryan Stroschein (6-1).
Linn-Mar 000 000—0
C.R. Xavier 040 204—10
Eli Scott, Isaac Hussel, Tony Nieland and Tyler Oberbroeckling. Logan McDermott and Nick Banowetz. W — Logan McDermott (5-1); L — Eli Scott (1-2). HR — Garrett Ries (5).
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