Prep Baseball: Hoyer Wins 600th, Kennedy Goes Back to State
By Jeff Johnson, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS — No over-the-top parties after this one. Bret Hoyer was going to keep things low key, as you’d expect.
“We’re going to celebrate a birth in the state tournament the way we always do,” the Cedar Rapids Kennedy baseball coach said Wednesday night after his Cougars beat back Cedar Falls, 9-1, in a Class 4A substate final at Kennedy. “Get together with some friends at the house and eat some pizza.”
Hopefully a lot of friends and a lot of pizza because Hoyer deserves the adulation. This was his 600th career victory in 23 years as a head coach: three at Iowa City Regina and the last 20 at Kennedy.
The Cougars are in “The Show” for the third year in a row and 12th time overall under Hoyer, who has led Kennedy to four state championship games, including a title in 2010. Kennedy (32-6) is the No. 2 seed this time around and draws Linn-Mar (29-11) in a 4A quarterfinal next Wednesday night at 6 p.m. at Principal Park in Des Moines.
“That’s amazing,” said center fielder Josh Jahlas, who joined a teammate in dousing Hoyer with a celebratory cooler of water postgame. “He’s a fantastic coach, and he deserves every one of those wins.”
“I’m just excited for these guys to go to the state tournament,” Hoyer said. “Hopefully they’ll have a good tournament and show everybody the caliber of baseball they can play.”
That caliber was darned good Wednesday night. Kennedy took advantage of some obvious big-game jitters from a younger Cedar Falls team that committed six telltale errors. The Tigers ended their season 22-19.
The Cougars scored right away in the top of the first on a wild pitch by Tigers starting pitcher Christopher Baltazor, took a 2-0 lead on an unearned fourth-inning run, and put the game away with five unearned runs in the fifth. Kennedy was impressive in the way it was continually aggressive on the basepaths (always a Hoyer staple) and successful at moving runners over and in.
For instance, Kennedy went 2-for-2 in sacrifice-bunt attempts and scored a pair of runs on sacrifice flies.
“I think we played pretty well,” said Jahlas, who went 3-for-5 with a run and two RBIs. He has been commuting back and forth between Cedar Rapids and Ames, where he is a Shrine Bowl football game player.
“They gave us a lot of opportunities, and we took advantage of those opportunities,” Jahlas said. “We hit the ball well when we needed to.”
And pitched well, too. Ace Alex Hayden went the first five innings, giving up just one hit and the lone CF run. Adam Lloyd and Nick Appleget followed with shutout relief innings in a tuneup for what Kennedy hopes is a long tournament run next week.
“Our coach preaches pitching and defense,” Hayden said. “That’s what we’ve been able to do these first two (postseason) games. We know if we do that, we’re going to win.”
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