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Friday, September 22, 2017
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Iowa Valley League

Fairfax claims IABA state title

NORWAY - Many of them have followed different paths since they played baseball at Kennedy High School, but one thing has remained the same for these former Cougars.

They are still winners.

The Fairfax Stars, boasting a lineup stuffed with Kennedy grads,  captured the Iowa Amateur Baseball Association state title Sunday with a 5-4 victory over Red Top in the championship game at Norway.

It's believed to be the first state title for Fairfax, according to tournament directors, and it came with nine Kennedy products on their postseason roster.

They cut their teeth as baseball players for Kennedy Coach Bret Hoyer, who has run one of the best programs in the state for 25 years.

"We learned how to play the game the right way," said Cody Bell, the tournament MVP. "Never get down on yourself.

"It's kind of just togetherness. We stuck together the entire season."

Fairfax ran away with the Iowa Valley League title this season, then compiled a perfect 6-0 record in the state tournament with a string of clutch victories along the way.

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IABA state tourney trimmed to 3 teams

NORWAY - The Iowa Amateur Baseball Association state tournament has been trimmed to three teams with Fairfax, Red Top and Norway still in  the hunt for top honors.

Fairfax has a 4-0 record in the tournament after clipping Walford, 3-2, Saturday on a three-run homer by Chico Lizarraga and a complete  game by Austin Czerwicz.

Red Top and Norway both have one loss in the double-elimination event heading into Sunday's games.

Fairfax and Norway will meet in the first game Sunday at 1 p.m. If Fairfax beats Norway, the Stars can claim the 2018 championship by defeating Red Top at 3 p.m.

If Fairfax loses to Norway, all three teams - Fairfax, Norway and Red Top - would have one loss and they'd battle it out from there in dramatic showdowns.

Red Top won the state title last year, Fairfax won the Iowa Valley League title this year and Norway has a rich tradition in the state  tournament over the years.

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Bell sparkles in IABA state tourney

WALFORD - Cody Bell has been pitching to Chico Lizarraga for about 15 years now.

First it was the Junior Cougars, then Kennedy High School, then Mount Mercy University, now the Fairfax Stars.

"Yup. A long, long time," Lizarraga said Sunday night.

It's been a winning combination every step of the way.

Bell tossed another strong game Sunday as Fairfax trimmed Red Top, 2-1, in a winners bracket game of the IABA state tournament at Walford.

Bell pitched a five-hitter with seven strikeouts for the Stars, who won the Iowa Valley League title this season and are 3-0 in the IABA tournament heading into the final round next weekend.

"Cody was brilliant tonight," said Lizarraga. "He had his stuff working. Fastball both sides of the plate, off-speed pitch, behind in the count. He had his 'A' game tonight."

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IVL teams advance in IABA tourney

It was a good day Saturday for the five Iowa Valley League teams entered in the Iowa Amateur Baseball Association state tournament.

IVL teams went 6-2 during the first-round of play and all advanced to the next round Sunday. The league's only two losses came in games against each other. Norway needed 10 innings to down Walford, 8-2, while Fairfax was a 10-5 winner over Watkins.

Norway received a bye and doesn't have to play Sunday. The Bandits allowed just two runs in their two victories, earning the day off due to allowing the fewest runs.

Action continues on Sunday with four games in Walford, beginning at noon.

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IABA state tourney set for 2-week run

The top five teams from the Iowa Valley League will play in the Iowa Amateur Baseball Association tournament that begins Saturday.

Fairfax, the regular-season champion, has drawn a No. 1 seed in the  tournament and will face the Allison Cats from the North Iowa League on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Watkins.

The other top seeds in the 12-team tournament are the Quad City 76ers from the Blackhawk Valley League and Osage from the North Iowa League.

Norway, Red Top, Walford and Watkins also will participate in the tournament from the Iowa Valley League. Red Top is the defending state  champions.

Saturday's games will be played at Watkins, Walford and Rock Island  with games at 12, 2, 4 and 6. The tournament will continue Sunday at Walford with games at 12, 2, 4 and 6 as well.

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Red Top scores 14 runs in one inning

WILLIAMSBURG - Red Top exploded for 14 runs in the fourth inning Sunday and drubbed Williamsburg, 15-0, in the first game of their Iowa Valley League doubleheader in Williamsburg.

Reid Bonner collected two hits and scored two runs during the 14-run frame. He finished with three hits and three runs in the contest.  Mitch Silberstein tossed a complete-game shutout.

Red Top scored eight runs in the top of the first inning of the nightcap, but Williamsburg rallied for an 11-10 victory and the split.  Vic Malloy pitched well in relief for the Red Sox and was credited with the victory.

Izaya Ono-Fullard and Tyler Rahmatulla had two hits for Red Top in Game 2.

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Massner's monster night lifts Norway

NORWAY - Kace Massner could have easily been down on Sunday night.

Massner, a redshirt freshman outfielder at the University of Iowa, wasn't one of the players selected to play for the Hawkeyes in the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., this week.

With his Hawkeye teammates playing in Wichita, Massner took his usual spot in center field for the Norway Bandits as they hosted Iowa Valley League champion Fairfax in a season-ending twinbill.

And did he have a night to remember.

Massner went 6-for-9 in the doubleheader, belting a pair of three-run homers, including a game-tying shot in the bottom of the 10th inning in Game 2, leading the Bandits to a sweep over the Stars, 11-3 and 4-3 in 11 innings.

The sweep allowed Norway to overtake Red Top for second place in the league at 12-8, three games behind Fairfax. Red Top split with Williamsburg on Sunday to finish at  11-9.

Massner obviously would have rather been in Wichita with his Hawkeye teammates on Sunday. If he was disappointed, it certainly didn't show in his play.

"I just did what I was told," Massner said about not making the trip. "I just keep working every day to get better. I wasn't picked to go to  the tournament, but I just came up here with the goal of improving each time I play."

A 6-foot-5, 225-pound left-handed hitter out of Burlington High School, Massner spent last season as a redshirt, rehabbing after undergoing shoulder surgery during his senior year of high school.

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IVL, Hawkeyes help each other

IOWA CITY - The University of Iowa baseball program has been a good provider of talent for the Iowa Valley League over the past several years.

So when Coach Rick Heller needed some rare summer competition for his Hawkeyes to sharpen their skills for a pair of upcoming tournaments,  the IVL players and coaches were more than happy to help out.

The Hawkeyes, fresh off an NCAA Tournament appearance in June, were  selected to represent the United States in the World University Games,  scheduled for Aug. 16-30 in Taipei, Taiwan. Prior to that trip, the Hawkeyes will play in the National Baseball Congress World Series next week in Wichita, Kan.

Hence the need for some tuneup games.

"I called Fritz (Red Top general manager) Kinzenbaw in the winter and  talked to him about it," Heller said after Iowa downed an IVL All-Star team, 7-3, Tuesday night at Duane Banks Field. "They were in the process of making their schedule and they were willing to help us out.

"I played in that league for a long time," Heller continued. "I really appreciate those guys taking their night league off and helping us to prepare to play in the World Games."

The Hawks will play another exhibition game against Red Top of the IVL on Thursday prior to opening play in the NBC World Series on Sunday night.

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Norway, Walford sweep IVL twinbills

WILLIAMSBURG - Colby Carmichael tossed a two-hitter as the Norway Bandits trimmed the Williamsburg Red Sox, 4-2, in the first game of their Iowa Valley League doubleheader Sunday in Williamsburg.

Norway captured the second game, 12-5, to sweep the twinbill.

Carmichael was named the IVL Pitcher of the Week for his complete-game  performance. JT Sole had a two-run single for Norway and Mitch Walser had an RBI base hit in the opener.

Tony Salato belted a three-run homer for the Bandits in the secon  game. It came during an eight-run outburst for Norway in the fourth inning to take command. Riley Braughton had a two-run homer for Norway.

Joe Anton, Ryan Arp and Nolan Arp had two hits for Williamsburg in the second game. The Arp brothers drove in two runs apiece.

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Stars end Red Top's IVL reign

WALFORD - The regular-season Iowa Valley League championship has been the exclusive property of Red Top since the summer of 2011.

That all changed here Sunday afternoon as the Fairfax Stars secured the 2017 title after downing Watkins, 5-2, in the second game of a doubleheader.

Watkins got home runs from Jonny Frese and Luke Farley to post a 3-1 win in the opener.

Player/Manager Chico Lizarraga's Stars, with a roster featuring a number of former Cedar Rapids Kennedy standouts, sits at 15-3 with only a 5 p.m. twinbill next Sunday at Norway remaining. Red Top fell back into a tie for second with Norway at 10-8 after being swept by Walford, 8-2 and 15-7, on Sunday in Norway while the Bandits were sweeping a twinbill from Williamsburg.

After clinching the title, the Stars posed for a quick team photo and then celebrated quietly with some cold beverages.

"We've got a good group of veterans and a good bunch of young guys,"  said Lizarraga, who also serves as an assistant coach on Bret Hoyer's staff at Kennedy. "We have a really good chemistry together and that's why I think we came out on top of the league."

The Stars have been a team that has adapted all season. They haven't played a home game all summer in Fairfax. They have played home games at Kennedy and Iowa City West as well as here on Sunday. Lizarraga said the reason for not playing in Fairfax all summer had to do with the field.

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Fairfax clinches tie for IVL title

WILLIAMSBURG - The Fairfax Stars swept a doubleheader from Williamsburg Sunday, 11-1 and 8-1, to clinch at least a tie for the  Iowa Valley League title.

Fairfax raised its record to 14-2 and has a four-game lead over Red Top with four games left in the regular season.

Austin Czerwiec collected his seventh victory of the season with seven strikeouts in the 11-1 victory. Matt Berst, who just finished his all-state career at Kennedy, went 3-for-3 for Fairfax. Cody Williams had two doubles and scored three runs.

Ryan Arp and Cam Frazier had two hits for Williamsburg in the opener.

Jacob Henry had three hits and a double for Fairfax in the second game. Steve Jensen had two hits. Cody Bell was the winning pitcher.

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