Thursday, June 21, 2018
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Iowa Valley League

Red Top's Kerr keeps 'working his way in'

All Kirby Kerr has ever needed on the baseball diamond is an opportunity.

And each time he gets a chance, positive results tend to follow.

After a successful freshman season at Kirkwood Community College, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound outfielder/pitcher was looking to join a team for the summer.

Former Kirkwood teammate Cal Clark, who will play next season at Houston Baptist, put him in touch with Red Top Manager Adam Sadler and he was quickly added to the Iowa Valley League team's roster

"Cal Clark gave me an in," Kerr said. "I just kept bugging him about it. He texted (Sadler) and he was more than willing to put me on the team."

Kerr has become the regular left fielder for the Toppers and also has picked up a save as a pitcher. He is appreciative of the chance to play for Red Top, both on Sundays and in the Wednesday Night League.

"On Wednesdays, it's just one game and it doesn't count toward the league record," Kerr said. "It's the same type of baseball, same guys usually. We see some different pitchers, but that's about it.



3-way logjam in IVL standings

Williamsburg, Norway and the Stars are all tied for first place in the Iowa Valley League with 5-3 records after four weeks of the 2018 regular season.

Walford is just another game back at 4-4, followed by Red Top at 3-5 and Watkins at 2-6 in the compact standings.

The Stars swept Watkins on Sunday. Walford swept Red Top, while Norway and Williamsburg split their twinbill.



Pitching carries Walford to sweep

WALFORD - Fans of well-pitched, low-scoring baseball games saw a pair of gems on Sunday in the Iowa Valley League twinbill between Walford and Red Top.

And when the dust settled on a steamy day at the Walford Ball Diamond, the host Hogs came away with a sweep in what is becoming a battle between all six league teams for the championship.

The sweep lifted the Hogs to 4-4 through four weeks of IVL play while Red Top fell to 3-5.

In the opener, Ross Swinton and Mitch Moser combined on a two-hitter as Walford escaped with a 1-0 victory.

The nightcap saw Moser start and go five innings. He was relieved in the final two innings by former Linn-Mar standout Manny Jeffery as the Hogs got a pair of unearned runs in the fifth inning to post a 3-1 triumph.

"We were kind of low on pitching today," said Moser, who got the save in the opener and the win in Game 2. "Swinton threw five strong innings and then I came in and closed it out.



Jansen becomes ace of Williamsburg staff

Tanner Jansen spent the last two summers trying to juggle two sports.

It's tough enough trying to play both baseball and football in college, but Jansen's plight was even more difficult. He was splitting time at Simpson College, working on his quarterback skills for football while trying to pitch when he could in the Iowa Valley League for Williamsburg.

As a sophomore last fall at Simpson, Jansen appeared in eight football games for the Storm, completing 5 of 16 passes for 59 yards and rushing for 131 yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries.

In the spring, he had a 2-4 pitching record with a 4.83 earned run average.

This summer, Jansen decided to devote all his attention to baseball.

"It was a little tough being a two-sport athlete," he said. "It got to the point where I was getting to the latter half of my college career and I figured it was best to go after baseball and attack it on the diamond."

He was only able to pitch on a spot basis last year for Williamsburg due to his football commitments. With his football career behind him, Jansen's mound career has taken off in the first three weeks of IVL play.



Norway, Red Top sweep IVL games

Norway and Red Top swept their Iowa Valley League doubleheaders on  Sunday, creating a logjam in the standings.

Williamsburg and Norway are tied for first place with 4-2 records  after three weeks. Red Top and the Stars are both 3-3, with Walford  and Watkins in contention at 2-4.


NORWAY - The Norway Bandits received excellent pitching Sunday and  swept their doubleheader from Walford, 4-1 and 7-0.

Colby Carmichael took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the  opener before allowing a run on three singles.

Mitch Walser belted a three-run homer for Norway in the first game.  Christian Stekl had two hits and scored twice. Braedon Brown had two  hits and Riley Braughton contributed an RBI single.



Williamsburg matches 2017 win total

Starting a season with a 4-2 record doesn't usually generate much talk.

After splitting Sunday's Iowa Valley League doubleheader with the defending league champion Stars, Williamsburg manager Lloyd Brockshus quipped: "This is great, we've already matched the number of games we won all last season."

The Red Sox jumped out to a 3-0 lead after two innings, then rode the strong pitching of Tanner Jansen and reliever Dustin Meirotto, to hold on for a 3-2 victory in the opener at Mount Mercy's Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex on Sunday.

A four-run fourth-inning outburst allowed the Stars (3-3) to rally for a 5-2 victory in the nightcap.

Williamsburg has been the surprise team over the first three weeks. After finishing just 4-16 last summer in the IVL, an influx of new players, combined with a few returning standouts have the Red Sox playing winning baseball in 2018.

"On some of the past teams we didn't have as much competitiveness," said Cam Frazier, a Cedar Rapids Jefferson grad now playing at Coe. "This year we brought in a lot of (NCAA Division III) talent. We've had a lot of Simpson players step up for us big-time."



Dralle relishes dual sport career

Tyler Dralle wouldn't have it any other way.

Dralle was a standout in both football and baseball during his prep career at Cedar Rapids Kennedy.

When it came time for college, Dralle wanted to continue his dual sports participation at Coe.

Now preparing for his junior year with the Kohawks, Dralle has a busy summer ahead. During the week, he hits the weights hard at Coe. On Sundays, he's back playing baseball again for the Stars in the Iowa Valley League.

"This summer I've been lifting five days a week," he said. "Then on the weekend, I play for fun with the Stars."

Dralle was a key member of the Stars' IVL and IABA state championship teams last summer and was back working in the outfield during the team's home opener last Sunday at Mount Mercy.

The upcoming football and baseball seasons at Coe are setting up to be big ones for Dralle. On the gridiron, he rushed for 452 yards in six games before missing the final four games due to a leg injury as the Kohawks finished 4-6.

During this past spring, he batted .250. As a pitcher, he went 2-0 with one save as Coe finished 24-18.

"I'm definitely looking forward to building off what I did last year," he said. "I'm looking to get better in both."

The thought of giving up one sport or the other has never crossed Dralle's mind.

"No, I've never really thought about it because I love both of these sports so much," he said. "I enjoy doing it all the time and I've never really felt burnt out or anything like that."

Dralle has never strayed far from his Kennedy roots. He was an all-state running back as a senior, leading the Cougars to the Class 4A state title game in 2015 by rushing for 2,254 yards on 408 carries.

Playing with the Stars has allowed him to stay connected with other Cougar alums on the team.

"All these guys play ball the right way," he said. "We all have the same mindset out here so we play really well together."

In baseball as a junior, he was part of the Cougars' 2015 state tournament team that lost to Iowa City West in the semifinals.


Watkins sweeps Norway in wild twinbill

NORWAY - The Norway Bandits belted five home runs and collected 18 hits in the first game of their doubleheader against Watkins in the  Iowa Valley League on Sunday.

Despite all that heavy hitting, the Bandits lost the ballgame 19-13 on their home field.

Watkins finished the sweep by taking the nightcap, 5-3, in nine innings on a two-run homer by Luke Farley in the top of the ninth.

Norway hurt itself in the opener by committing at least five errors in the sixth inning, helping Watkins score seven times. Farley socked a grand slam in the midst of all those fielding miscues by the Bandits.

Riley Braughton hit two home runs and had four hits for Norway in the opener. Braedon Brown, Jordan Pierce and Christian Stekl also hit homers for the Bandits in Game 1.



Hargens helps Stars split with Red Top

The defending Iowa Valley League champion Stars were in need of a spark in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader with Red Top.

After being blitzed 13-6 in the opener at Mount Mercy's Robert W. Plaster Athletic Complex, the Stars turned to a pitcher who felt right at home at the brand new facility.

Blake Hargens, who just completed his junior season at Mount Mercy, took the mound for the Stars in Game 2. He pitched a complete-game three-hitter as the Stars salvaged a split with a 7-2 victory.

"We always like to at least split, especially if we lose the first one," Hargens said. "We just needed to pick things up around here in the second game."

Players on both teams had some trouble adjusting to not only the all-artificial turf playing surface, but a brutal sun that made it almost impossible for the right fielders on both teams to track fly balls in the second game.

"It felt really good throwing on a mound that I know," said Hargens, a Kennedy grad who was 3-and-4 this past spring for the Mustangs. "We had troubles (at Mount Mercy) adjusting to the sun and playing on the turf to start the season. It is something that guys in this league will have to get used to."



Lohaus enjoys his return to baseball

IOWA CITY - Tanner Lohaus felt like a kid again Sunday, roaming around at shortstop and bantering with his teammates in the dugout at Iowa City West High School.

There was just one problem.

"The spikes don't quite fit. I need a new pair," he said after playing for Red Top on opening day in the Iowa Valley League. "But it felt really good to be out there. It was fun."

Lohaus, an Iowa City West grad, spent two years at the University of Northern Iowa on their basketball team, but he's planning to change schools and change sports.

He wants to play baseball for his remaining years in college after his basketball career did not take root. He was redshirted at UNI as a freshman in 2016-17 and played sparingly this past season, appearing in seven games and playing a total of 35 minutes with eight points and 10 rebounds.

Lohaus announced this spring that he'd be making a major change and the search has begun. He's primarily viewed as a pitcher now, but played shortstop in high school and is a good athlete.



Williamsburg posts pair of shutouts

WATKINS - The Williamsburg Red Sox received terrific pitching all day and swept a doubleheader from Watkins, 1-0 and 7-0, on the opening day of the 2018 Iowa Valley League campaign.

Lucas Robbins and Zach Kammin combined on a shutout in Game 1, foiling a strong effort by Luke Franzenburg on the mound for Watkins. Robbins and Kammin struck out seven batters. Franzenburg pitched a five-hitter, but was saddled with a tough loss.

Williamsburg scored the only run in the game in the third inning. Truman Schmidt singled and Nolan Arp produced a game-winning RBI single.

Luke Farley had two doubles for Watkins. Nick Suppel had two hits for Williamsburg.

Tanner Jensen struck out seven batters for Williamsburg in the 7-0 shutout in the second game. Neil Marshall had two hits and two RBIs. Suppel had a double.


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