Cedar Rapids Xavier takes advantage of the late rally to fend off angry Bondurant-Farrar offer in the baseball semester

Saints win 6-5 in 8 innings and face Solon for a trip to the state

Cedar Rapids Xavier’s Jack Lux (5) celebrates a goal from Xavier’s Alex Neal (25, left) in the first double header game at Cedar Rapids Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids on Thursday, June 25, 2020. (Andy Abeyta / The Newspaper)

CEDAR RAPIDS – For six innings, Bondurant-Farrar looked like the battle-hardened team.

The Bluejays had solid at-bats, timely hits and an airtight defense as they built a 5-2 lead over a long-standing Cedar Rapids Xavier roster in the Class 3A Substate 5 semi-final game on Monday night at the Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex the campus of Mount Mercy University.

Then came a fateful bottom light of the seventh for the guests. Two walks, a single, two mistakes, and a hit-by-pitch set the stage for a three-run rally topped off by a sacrificial fly from Xavier’s Brody Hoffman to determine the game 5-5.

The Saints wasted little time on extra innings, taking a 6-5 win in a walk-off single from Junior Alex Neal and bringing Jaxon Rexroth home with the game winner.

Coach Dan Halter’s Saints (25-12), seeded runner-up, comes to the Substate final in Solon on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. The No. 1 seeded Spartans continued with an 11-1 win over Carlisle

Bondurant-Farrar closes its season at 2 pm-3pm.

The Saints had their chances in the first six innings, putting in runners in each inning.

“Hey, we just had to be tough,” said Neal. “Everyone was consistently positive and the emotions stayed balanced and it just came together.”

During his time as coach of Xavier, Halter saw many victories for his team. He said the message stayed the same after every missed opportunity.

“We preached to them again and again that they should stay cool,” said Halter. “When you get to the last inning of a game, human nature says you press a little. I think they might have done a little bit.”

The Bluejays built a 5-0 lead with a breakout in four runs in the fourth run. Alex Hall had a two-RBI double, followed by a two-out single from Nick Barning.

Ironically, the guy who finished it off for Xavier got things going in round five. Neal’s triple to the right was scored by Jack Lux on the first Xavier run. The Saints added another RBI double from Griffin Maloney in the sixth game.

After working out of a traffic jam in the top of the seventh, Xavier was able to hold onto things and force extra innings.

“The biggest thing we did was put pressure on them,” said Halter. “Hitting pop-ups and slamming them makes it easier for a team. If you put the ball on the floor, you’re forcing them to play and that’s what we did.”

In the eighth, Rexroth got going with a one-out double to the left. After walks to Myles Butkowski and Lux, Neal came to the plate.

“I was just trying to do my job,” he said. “We had a retirement and I knew that if I found a hole there, we’d get a run and we’ll celebrate.”

Neal did just that, and the Saints got a chance to play another day.

“We have a lot of respect for them,” said Halter of Solon. “You have seed # 1, so let’s go to your place and see what happens.”

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