CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Kennedy’s Mason Behn was happy but not satisfied.
His bar is set pretty high. So high, in fact, that he tossed his first prep baseball no-hitter and he still felt he could have been better.
The sophomore right-hander fanned 11 batters and didn’t allow a hit, helping the Cougars down host Cedar Rapids Washington, 10-0, in five innings Tuesday night in the season opener for both Mississippi Valley Conference teams.
“I thought I did fine,” Behn said. “I walked a few too many. I wasn’t feeling the zone early on, but I got better as the game went on and was feeling really good.”
Behn overcame some early control problems, loading the bases with a hit batsman and two consecutive walks in the first. He buckled down with his second strikeout of the frame and fielded a groundout to end the threat.
Even though he allowed two more free passes the next inning, Washington didn’t advance a runner past second. Behn mixed in a good curveball with a fastball that hits in the mid-80s. He had three straight strikeouts at the end of the second and to start the third. Behn struck out the side around his final walk in the fourth.
He said he felt like he was starting to hit his groove.
“I was super pumped,” Behn said. “It felt really good.”
Behn closed the game with one more whiff. He said he will head right back to work, correcting on the few things he did wrong for his next appearance.
“There’s always room to improve,” said Behn, who also had an RBI double and two walks at the plate. “I try to get better each start.”
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The Cougars provided plenty of offense and gave Behn an early lead. Kennedy loaded the bases in each of the first four innings and scored multiple runs.
Zac Stallman provided some punch, hitting two run-scoring doubles. He put Kennedy up 1-0 with an RBI double and then scored on a passed ball in the first. In the third, he added a two-run double to give Kennedy a 6-0 lead. Stallman finished 3-for-3 with a walk and three RBIs.
Stallman is going to be relied on hitting in the No. 3 spot.
“You hope you get some hard-hit balls on a consistent basis from that person,” Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer said. “He was dialed in tonight. He has to show he can follow that up game-to-game, week-to-week.”
Kaden Waack matched Stallman’s three RBIs, while Trenton Wheatley had two of Kennedy’s 11 hits. The Cougars also drew nine bases on balls.
“I was really pleased with our approach at the plate, particularly with two strikes,” Hoyer said. “I thought they battled and extended at-bats. They found ways to move the ball and get on base. That puts a lot of pressure on defenses.”
Normally, teams would be approaching midseason instead of starting the season at this time. Players had an abbreviated preseason after no organized group workouts in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I feel very good about it,” Hoyer said about the victory. “All the way around, I felt the kids did very well out of the chute, considering everything they’ve gone through the last five months.”
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