Monday, July 16, 2018
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

Brown walk-off part of fireworks in Watkins

WATKINS - There were fireworks going off all night during the annual Iowa Valley League holiday doubleheader between Norway and Watkins.

Most of the blasts were of the traditional variety with loud booms and blasts. Nick Brown provided one to remember on the field.

The former University of Iowa standout hit a two-run walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth inning Saturday night to give Watkins a 7-5 victory and a sweep of the twinbill before an overflow crowd at Gabe Kuester Memorial Ball Park.

The Mud Hens (5-7) got a two-run single from Jonny Frese in the bottom of the third to rally past the Bandits (6-8) for a 3-2 win in the opener.

Brown completed his career at Iowa in 2012. He played for the Mud Hens for part of that summer before returning to the Chicago area. Brown moved back to Iowa and has been on the Watkins roster full-time since  2014.

And when was the last time Brown had a walk-off homer?

"Not since my freshman year in high school," he said with a smile  before heading off to sit with his family on the field for the spectacular 25-minute post-game fireworks display.


Schulte has worn many hats in IVL

Justin Schulte has been a prominent member of the Iowa Valley League for nearly four decades as a player, coach and umpire, but it actually began when he was a young kid in Norway.

Schulte was one of the boys who chased foul balls into the corn field  and front yards that surround the famed Norway baseball field. Now 46 years old, he figures he got started when he was about 7.

You still see kids chasing those foul balls and returning them for a quarter at Norway.

"It was probably a dime back then," he said Sunday after umpiring a pair of IVL games at Mount Mercy. "Inflation got it up to a quarter."

You'd need a family three to unravel all the Schulte brothers and cousins who have played ball in Norway. If you grew up in Norway, you played as soon as you quit wearing cloth diapers.

"I don't know if it's pre-ordained, but there are a heck of a lot of Schultes that played baseball," said one of the best. "A lot of families.

"Probably the highlight of my career was playing with all three of my brothers in the Iowa Valley League, to be honest with you. It's one of the highlights of my baseball career."


Czerwiec hears the sounds of success

Austin Czerwiec was born with a severe hearing disability that was not discovered until he was three years old.

He got a late start on basic sounds, vocabulary and reading, but once he was fitted with hearing aids he worked hard to catch up.

The late start did not stop him from becoming a top athlete at Muscatine High School and an accomplished baseball player at Mount  Mercy University, graduating in 2015 with a degree in business management and human resource management.

Czerwiec was honored as the Pitcher of the Year in the Iowa Valley League last season and he's excelling again for the Stars, the 2017  league and state champions.

Czerwiec tossed another complete game Sunday as the Stars topped  Walford, 6-2, in the first game of their doubleheader at Mount Mercy.

The Stars won the second game, 5-1, to remain in first place with an 8-4 record.


McCaffery helps Red Top sweep Bandits

NORWAY - Connor McCaffery enjoyed a big day at the plate Sunday to  help Red Top sweep an Iowa Valley League doubleheader from the Norway  Bandits in Norway.

McCaffery belted a three-run homer to help Red Top win the first game,  5-4, and his sacrifice fly in the second game proved to be the  game-winning run in a 6-4 victory and the sweep.

The outcome left Red Top and Norway tied for third place in the IVL  standings with 6-6 records.

The Stars swept Walford Sunday to take sole possession of first place  with an 8-4 record. The scheduled doubleheader featuring Watkins at  Williamsburg was canceled due to wet grounds.

McCaffery's three-run homeer in the first game followed singles by  Ross Kramer and Kirby Kerr. Red Top added two runs in the fifth on a  walk by Izaya Fullard, a single by Kramer and a double by Kerr.


Farley preparing for final run at Iowa

WATKINS - If Luke Farley feels any pressure as he prepares for his final collegiate baseball season as an Iowa Hawkeye, it certainly does not show.

Farley is once again patrolling the outfield this summer with the Watkins Mud Hens of the Iowa Valley League along with taking a couple of summer classes at Iowa.

He has come through with some big hits for the Hens, most notably belting homers in both ends of a doubleheader sweep at Norway earlier in the season. This past Sunday, he had a pair of hits as Watkins rallied for a 3-2 win over Walford to gain a split of a doubleheader.

Playing for Watkins has allowed Farley to concentrate on both academics and baseball.

"(Playing for Watkins) gives me an opportunity to get some at-bats in during the summer," said Farley, who has been an all-academic Big Ten selection the past two seasons. "I'm also taking a couple of summer classes right now so it helps me to get tuned up for the season."


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