Prep Baseball

Decorah rises to the occasion in district baseball opener

Vikings shut out Center Point-Urbana for shot at No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier

Decorah Vikings
Decorah Vikings

CEDAR RAPIDS — Decorah’s baseball season has been messy at times.

The Vikings and starter Jace Johnson picked the right time for their first clean and neat mistake-free game.

Johnson threw six shutout innings and Decorah played its first errorless game of the year, defeating Center Point-Urbana 3-0 in a Class 3A district semifinal Friday night at Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Ken Charipar Field.

“I’m really happy with the effort,” Riley said. “It’s been an up-and-down, roller-coaster ride.

“We’ve had a hard time getting seven innings put together all year long. To see us have error-free baseball behind Jace and scratching a few runs against a good CPU team, we’re really pleased. We’re really tickled for the seniors.”

Decorah’s seniors get at least one more game thanks to solid defense and a strong pitching performance that only allowed four Stormin’ Pointers to reach base.

Johnson produced one of his best outings of the season, allowing just three hits and striking out four. Even when Cael Luzum earned the save by pitching a hitless seventh, Johnson took his spot at third and made the first two groundouts.

“It was awesome,” Johnson said. “We just showed up and for the first time all year played baseball. Everybody had fun.

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“It was error free. We may not have had as many hits as we wanted, but we grinded at-bats, we got on base and good things happen when you get on base.”

The bats took a little while to heat up for Decorah. CPU starter Braylon Havel retired the first 10 batters in order. Johnson drew the first of two Decorah walks in the fourth, scoring on Keenan Tyler’s free pass from reliever Brody Grawe for a 1-0 lead.

The Vikings added two more in the sixth, getting an RBI single from Tyler, who scored on Briggs Duwe’s fielder’s choice.

CPU (17-18) put two on in the second and then posed the first threat in the third. Ethan Sells singled with one out. Derek Tobin followed with a well-executed hit-and-run, moving Sells to third. Johnson coaxed a groundout and a flyball to end the innings.

The trials of the season prepared him for those moments.

“I was ready for it, because every time I’ve pitched this year, there have been runners on base most of the time,” Johnson said. “I’m always in the stretch. That’s when you’ve got to locate the best. You’ve got to throw your best in that position and I trusted my stuff and my guys and they backed me up. It was great.”

Decorah (16-16) will return here Monday to face top-ranked Xavier. The Saints made quick work of Iowa Falls-Alden with a 16-1 victory in four innings. Riley said the Vikings are familiar with the Saints through other sports. They know it is a tough task but will give it their all.

“It’s still 21 outs,” Riley said. “Everybody puts their shoes on one at a time. We know they are a really sound baseball team, but we look forward to the challenge when it comes to it.”

The Saints had little trouble, disposing of the Cadets and advancing to Monday’s district final.

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Xavier jumped on top early with five runs in the first, getting a two-run hit from Kyle Moeder and an RBI single from Nate Skala. Isaac Ball’s sacrifice fly capped the frame to drive in courtesy runner Derrick Skala.

The Saints followed with six in the second and five in the third. Ball finished with two hits and five RBIs. Bryson Bastian added two hits and an RBI. Seven Saints scored at least two runs.

Bastian also earned the win, facing just 10 batters in three scoreless innings and allowing one hit.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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