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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Red Sox claim first IABA title in 30 years

NORWAY - Lloyd Brockshus, the 73-year-old patriarch of the Williamsburg Red Sox, has promised his players they'll have swanky new uniforms when they take the field in 2019.

The grimy old uniforms went out in style.

The Red Sox put an exclamation point on their magical campaign Sunday by winning the IABA state tournament for the first time since 1988 by winning a pair of games at famed Norway Field.

Just two weeks ago, the Red Sox captured their first Iowa Valley League championship since 1977 on the final day of the regular season.

Williamsburg blanked Walford, 10-0, in the final game of the annual tournament Sunday to finish a season for the ages.

"Finally!" yelled Brockshus as he accepted the handsome championship trophy, punching the air with a clenched fist.

"It's a good feeling for me, being so old and stuff like that," he joked later. "I just like these guys."

And the Williamsburg guys love Brockshus. They call him "Lightning," a tribute to his pitching days at Williamsburg High School and the Red Sox many, many years ago.

"Lloyd deserves it," said Red Sox second baseman Nolan Arp, who was named the tournament MVP. "He's been out here a lot of years running the team. This was for him."

Williamsburg, Walford, Red Top and Norway all began the final day of the tournament Sunday with one loss, making it a mad scramble to the finish line n the double-elimination event.

Williamsburg rallied from a 3-1 deficit to defeat Red Top, 5-3, in the first semifinal on an ultra-clutch three-run double by Arp with two outs in the top of the seventh.

Walford edged Norway, 4-2, in the other semifinal on a two-run double by Parker Ridge in the bottom of the sixth that snapped a 2-2 tie.

That set the stage for the championship game between the Red Sox and the humorously named Hogs, with everyone wondering which team had enough pitching to claim the title.

The answer, clearly and decisively, was Williamsburg.

Travis Bowman, normally the closer for Williamsburg in Iowa Valley League games, had the freshest arm for the Red Sox and got the ball to start the contest. He capitalized on the opportunity and sparkled during his five innings on the mound, allowing just four hits with four strikeouts.

Bowman was typically the starter for Williamsburg during mid-week games in the Night League this year, so he arrived at the ballpark on Sunday with one thing in mind.

"I sure hoped I would start," he said. "Talking to the coaches, it seemed like I was the one who could go the longest.

"I think we all knew, if we were going to play in the championship game, we'd need a week-night starter to come in and step up."

Bryce Charipar and Dustin Meirotto both pitched an inning in relief to finish the six-hit shutout.

Arp went 2-for-3 in the championship game with a single, double and sacrifice fly to finish a memorable state tournament and earn the MVP nod from the tournament directors.

"I was surprised. It feels good, though," said Arp, who will be a senior at Coe this year. "I appreciate it a lot."

Bowman also will be a senior at Coe, reflective of the general makeup of the ballclub.

"The whole team is pretty much a bunch of D3 guys playing ball," said Arp. "It was a lot of fun this year and we meshed together really well."

Arp's older brother, Ryan, is the starting first baseman for the Red Sox. Their father, Jim, is one of the coaches, making it a family affair.

The head of the entire Red Sox clan is Brockshus, who has been a player, coach, GM, announcer and key man at the concession stand during his more than half-century with the organization.

"It's all for Lloyd," said Bowman. "Seeing him, all the work he puts in, all the effort he puts in.

"We had some seasons that were down," said Bowman. "This year, we had 20 guys that were committed and wanted to be here. That was the difference-maker.

"It's been special. It's been 30, 40 years. It's real special to see."

Zach Brown went 3-for-4 and drove in two runs for Williamsburg in the championship game. Brayden Frazier contributed two hits and three RBIs. Truman Schmitt had two hits and an RBI. Ryan Arp had an RBI double.

Brockshus is not a big talker, but he spent a considerable amount of time with his players after they claimed the top prize for the local 2018 baseball season.

"I'll do anything for them," he said of the "battlers" on his ballclub. "If they need anything, I told them to call me. I'll be there."

Brockshus told his players about the new uniforms they'll be getting in 2019. And he plans to order a new uniform for himself, keeping his long tenure with the team alive.

"You bet!," he said with a big smile.


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