Monday, May 30, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Rahmatulla makes splash with Red Top

SOLON - Tyler Rahmatulla looks good in a red-and-white baseball uniform again.

Rahmatulla wore those colors as a minor leaguer for the St. Louis Cardinals for three years and he's wearing them again for Red Top in the Iowa Valley League this season.

"I had all red stuff, so that worked out," he said with a smile Sunday.

Rahmatulla made a big splash in his IVL debut when he went 4-for-6 with a double, two home runs and four RBIs as Red Top swept a doubleheader from Norway, 7-6 and 13-2, at the Solon field.

Rahmatulla hit .322 for the Quad City River Bandits in the Midwest League in 2012, but he retired from pro ball in 2013 after struggling in Double-A for the Cardinals.

He met his fiancee, Clarissa Pauli, while playing for the River Bandits. Clarissa's cousin, Casey Pauli, is one of the players and coaches for Red Top, and that led to Rahmatulla joining the Iowa Valley League power this year.

He had not appeared in an organized game since 2013, but he played a flawless doubleheader at shortstop and swung a big bat in the No. 2 spot in the lineup for Red Top.

"It felt good to get back out there," he said. "I haven't played for awhile."


Whittington, Eagles take 2nd at NJCAA golf

PLYMOUTH, Ind. - Carson Whittington and the Kirkwood Eagles are coming home from the NJCAA Division II men's golf tournament in Indiana with some impressive awards.

Whittington fired a 6-under-par 66 Friday and captured second place in the individual standings and his exploits helped the Eagles take second place in the team standings at the Swan Lake Resort.

Whittington and Justin Warren of South Mountain (Ariz.) both finished the 72-hole tournament at 6-under 282, but Warren won a two-hole playoff for the individual championship.

Whittington, a sophomore from Creston, shot rounds of 72, 71, 73 and 66 in the four-day event.

Kirkwood and Tyler (Texas) both finished with 1,158 strokes in the team competition, but Kirkwood won a one-hole playoff for second place. South Mountain took the title by 20 strokes at 1,138, giving South Mountain its second straight crown.


MSR will cover venerable Iowa Valley League

I have great news to share with you today, especially if you love baseball and cherish the small towns that have nourished the sport for a long, long time in Eastern Iowa.

The Metro Sports Report will be offering extensive coverage this spring and summer of the Iowa Valley League, a baseball tradition in nearby towns that traces its roots all the way back to 1935.

Norway, Watkins, Fairfax, Walford, Williamsburg and Red Top are in the league again this season. The campaign begins Sunday and runs through July 31, followed by the annual IABA state tournament that lasts two weeks in August.

The Metro Sports Report will cover one doubleheader each week, starting this Sunday between Norway and Red Top at Red Top's home base in Solon at 1 p.m. Norway has been a traditional power in the league, but Red Top has captured the last five league titles and appears to have another strong team.

All of the twin-bills are scheduled for Sundays, except for the annual holiday doubleheader between Norway and Watkins which will be played this year on Saturday night, July 9 at Watkins.

The Iowa Valley League features a long list of current and former college baseball players, many of them from the greater Metro area itself, along with a sprinkling of former minor leaguers and even a few talented high school players. Some of the players in the IVL have been playing in the league for more than 10 years and still look forward to putting on the uniform and testing their skills.


Prairie claims 1st Metro baseball title

When Todd Rima became the new baseball coach at Cedar Rapids Prairie last year, he gave all of his players a picture of Principal Park in Des Moines and told them to set their sights on winning a state title there.

"We asked them to hang it up in their room and make sure it was something they wanted to work towards," Rima said Wednesday night. "I think they looked at me at first like, 'Is this guy crazy?' But I think they bought in. I think they have a confidence about them now that leads to success."

That confidence was on full display Wednesday as the Hawks claimed their first Metro title in school history with a 5-0 whitewash of fifth-ranked Kennedy at the Jefferson field.

The Hawks enjoyed a breakthrough year in 2015, winning 31 games and capturing the first Mississippi Valley Conference in school annals. Now they've followed last year's success with their first trophy in the 47th Bob Vrbicek Metro tournament.

"We felt with the kids that we had and how they wanted to work and how they wanted to be successful that we could have a lot of success," said Rima. "It's all because they've bought in to playing hard. They've done a tremendous job."

Junior Darren Kilpatrick tossed a four-hit shutout in his first varsity appearance as Prairie whipped its second ranked club in three days. The Hawks trimmed No. 3 Jefferson in the opening round, clobbered Washington in the semifinals and tamed Kennedy in the championship round, allowing just two runs in three games.


Prairie sending message in Metro tourney

The Prairie Hawks won 31 games last season and captured the first Mississippi Valley Conference baseball title in school history, yet they were completely snubbed in the preseason rankings this year despite have a veteran club.

Their first two opponents this year have paid the price.

Prairie smacked the Washington Warriors, 15-0, in four innings Tuesday night in the semifinals of the Metro baseball tournament for their second impressive victory in two days.

The Hawks began the year Monday night with a 3-2 victory over the third-ranked Jefferson J-Hawks. Now they'll get a shot at fifth-ranked Kennedy in the tournament finals Wednesday night at Jefferson.

"I think our guys know that we got zero votes, so we told them you spell respect W-I-N," Prairie Coach Todd Rima said after the Hawks overwhelmed Washington. "That's what we'll do and we'll let people decide the rankings."

The Hawks are not obsessed with the rankings, but they certainly noticed that not a single coach who votes in the IHSBCA poll thought they deserved a spot in the top 10.

"It motivated us," said third baseman Cooper Reittinger. "We didn't feel like we got the respect we deserved. So we came out and we've tried to earn some votes here. That's what really drove us these couple of games."


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