Prep Baseball

DeWitt Central walks off against Marion, Xavier crushes Anamosa in district semifinals

Sabers and Saints will square off Monday in Cedar Rapids

Cedar Rapids Xavier's Kyle Moeder fields a groundball during a game earlier this season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Cedar Rapids Xavier's Kyle Moeder fields a groundball during a game earlier this season. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Not often does it take two days to complete one, seven-inning baseball game.

Due to multiple lightning sightings and steady rainfall Friday night at Ken Charipar Field, the Class 3A District 7 semifinal matchup between DeWitt Central and Marion had to be stopped in the fourth inning. As a result, both teams had to go home and come back Saturday morning to complete the contest. DeWitt Central came out on top, 3-2.

“It was kind of a nice break to get our minds right, actually,” DeWitt Central’s Alex McAleer said.

McAleer was the second pitcher to come in Saturday in relief of Friday night’s starter, Lucas Bixby. Bixby was throwing a nice game, four shutout innings, before the inclement weather interrupted his performance.

Things weren’t easy for McAleer. He entered the game in the top of the fifth inning with the bases loaded and one out. The first batter he faced was Blair Brooks, who hit an RBI single to give Marion a 1-0 lead. But after the hit by Brooks, McAleer settled in and retired the next two batters to get the Sabers out of a jam.

Cam Steffens led off the bottom of the sixth with a single for Central. Steffens was followed in the order by Garret Finley, who walked. Luke Anderson then laid down a well-placed sacrifice bunt to get both Steffens and Finley into scoring position. Steffens crossed home plate on a dropped third strike to tie the game up. Then, Jake Swanson executed a suicide squeeze bunt to score Finley, giving Central a 2-1 advantage.

“We knew it was going to be a tight game to begin with,” DeWitt Central Coach Shane Sikkema said. “The one thing about these guys is we talk about failure a lot, and being behind 1-0 is nothing in our world.”

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Trailing 2-1, Marion wasn’t going home without a fight, either. Down to their last at bat, Indians shortstop Trevor Paulsen smashed an RBI single to right field to tie the game at 2-2.

With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Finley hit a liner that found a hole and scored Steffens to give Central a 3-2 walk-off win.

“When I was walking up to the plate, I had a lot of confidence,” Finley said. “Right as I stepped up, I saw their left fielder move back about three steps, and so I knew that anything short to the right or left side is definitely going to get a run in. So I didn’t try to do too much, and I just put the ball in play.”

Finley’s single, along with the run he scored earlier in the game, proved to be the difference for the Sabers.

Also in Class 3A District 7 semifinal action, No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier advanced with a 15-0 win over Anamosa in four innings.

The Saints came out hot right from the gates scoring three in the bottom of the first. Kyle Moeder had a two-RBI single, and Garret Ries followed up with an RBI single of his own.

In the second, Gabe Lux, who led the game off with a single, blasted a two-RBI double to the right-field corner. Lux then advanced to third on a fielder’s choice, and scored from third after a wild pitch.

Later in the second, Will Angstman drove in a run with an RBI single to left. Casey O’Connell followed a couple of batters later with a two-RBI single giving Xavier a commanding 10-0 lead.

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Moeder drove in an RBI single to get the Saints’ scoring started in the third. Then, Garret Ries smashed a two-run homer over the right-field fence. O’Connell drove in another RBI, and Nathan Skala drove in the 15th run for the Saints in the third.

And while Xavier’s starting pitcher, Aaron Bartels had plenty of run support to work with, he didn’t need it. The senior went four innings, striking out six and allowing just two hits.

“Aaron did a great job, and the best thing about him today was that he had no walks,” Xavier Coach Dan Halter said. “He just pumped strikes and hit spots really well today.”

The win for Xavier extends its win streak to 17 games.

DeWitt Central (28-12) and Xavier (30-9) will meet in the Distict 7 Final on Monday at Ken Charipar Field.

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