Friday, May 25, 2018
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Iowa Valley League

Williamsburg takes twinbill from Norway

The Williamsburg Red Sox swept an Iowa Valley League doubleheader from the Norway Bandits Sunday in Norway to square their record at 4-4.

Elsewhere, the Walford Hogs upended Red Top in the second game of their doubleheader in Walford on a one-hitter by Diogenes Ceballos to hand Red Top its first loss of the campaign after seven straight wins.


In what league officials called an "historic event," the Williamsburg Red Sox swept Norway on the road just three weeks after sweeping Watkins on the road for four victories against traditional IVL powers.

Williamsburg and Norway were tied, 2-2, heading into the top of the ninth inning in the opener. Garrett Saunders and Nolan Arp collected back-to-back doubles for Williamsburg in the ninth and Travis Bowman retired the side in the bottom of the ninth for the 3-2 victory.



Bell fell in love with baseball again

WATKINS - Cody Bell was a member of the golf team at the University of Northern Iowa for two years, but he missed playing baseball so much that he transferred to Mount Mercy University two years ago and resumed his career on the diamond.

It turned out to be a great move.

Bell enjoyed a sensational season for Mount Mercy this season and he starred again on the mound Sunday for Fairfax in the first game of their Iowa Valley League doubleheader against Watkins.

Bell tossed a complete game and allowed only two earned runs as Fairfax topped the Mudhens, 7-3, on a warm day at Watkins. He allowed seven hits with seven strikeouts and one walk.

Watkins captured the second game, 8-2, for its first victory of the season.

Bell compiled an 8-2 record and 1.65 at Mount Mercy this year and was named first team all-conference. He also hit .298 with 18 RBIs for the Mustangs, who finished with a 34-14 record.

Bell, 22, was a multi-sport athlete at Cedar Rapids Kennedy in golf, basketball and baseball, but he wanted to try golf in college and enrolled at Northern Iowa four years ago, leaving baseball behind. His golf career never fully blossomed in college and as time went by he realized he sorely missed playing ball.

Bell decided to transfer to Mount Mercy, where he rejoined several of his former Kennedy teammates like Jimmy Lizarraga, Alex Hayden and Adam Lloyd.



Fairfax, Norway sweep IVL doubleheaders

Fairfax and Norway swept their Iowa Valley League doubleheaders on Sunday, lifting their records to 4-2 after three weeks of the season.

Fairfax swept Williamsburg, 2-1 in eight innings and 5-0. Norway swept Walford, 6-1 and 4-2.


FAIRFAX - Zach Daniels hit a single and scored the winning run on an RBI single by Cody Bell in the bottom of the eighth inning as Fairfax trimmed Williamsburg, 2-1, in the first game of their doubleheader.

Tyler Koningsmark pitched the first five innings for Fairfax, allowing one run on four hits. David Yancey tossed three scoreless innings in relief for the victory.

Fairfax took a 1-0 lead in the second inning of the opener. Daniels had a base hit, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Jimmy Lizarraga. Williamsburg tied the score, 1-1, in the fifth inning on a single by Garrett Saunders and an RBI double by Nolan Arp.



Red Top's Howe is baseball lifer

SOLON - Tyler Howe simply cannot get enough baseball, despite two serious arm injuries that ended his professional career with the New York Mets organization four years ago.

Howe is the successful head coach at Northeast High School in Goose Lake during the week, then he stars for Red Top in the Iowa Valley League on Sundays.

"It's a busy summer," he acknowledged Sunday.

Howe belted a solo home run in the fourth inning to snap a scoreless tie and help Red Top blank Watkins, 3-0, in the second game of an IVL doubleheader at the Solon High School field.

Red Top won the first game, 5-2, and is undefeated this season at 6-0.

Howe, a catcher and first baseman, was on base all day with three walks, a hit-by-pitch and his towering home run to left-center field.

Howe, 30, looks forward to the games each week.



Sauegling, Solato receive IVL honors

Aaron Sauegling and Tony Solato have been honored by the Iowa Valley League for Week 2 of the season.

Sauegling tossed a complete game for Red Top in a 7-3 victory over Fairfax and was named the Pitcher of the Week.

Solato belted two solo home runs for Norway in a 7-2 victory over Watkins and was named the Player of the Week.


Healthy Stroschein stars for Walford

WILLIAMSBURG - Austin Stroschein was lifting weights at Johnson County Community College in November of 2014 when his teammates noticed his right arm was swollen and discolored.

"I looked at it and my arms were completely different colors. It was blowing up," he said Sunday after starring for Walford in an Iowa Valley League doubleheader at Williamsburg.

"It looked like an elephant trunk. It was absolutely ridiculous."

It turned out that Stroschein, a Linn-Mar grad, had two blood clots in his right shoulder and it led to him having thoracic outlet surgery, where doctors removed his first rib to relieve pressure on the artery in his arm.

The surgery left a long scar at the bottom of his neck where the rib was removed, and it also left two scars on his back where surgeons placed a tube through his back during the operation.

Doctors cleared the blood clots with a stent and he was on blood thinners for several months.

"It was a tough process, but I'm feeling decent now," he said. "I'm throwing better, so I have to keep getting stronger."



Red Top, Norway sweep IVL twinbills

Red Top swept a doubleheader from Fairfax Sunday to grab an early two-game lead in the Iowa Valley League standings with a 4-0 record after two weeks.

Norway swept its twinbill from Watkins to square its record at 2-2 and move into a four-way tie for second place with Walford, Fairfax and Williamsburg. Watkins is still looking for its first victory at 0-4.



Bell, Saunders honored by IVL

Cody Bell of Fairfax and Garrett Saunders of Williamsburg have been honored by the Iowa Valley League for their performances in the opening week of the 2016 campaign.

Bell tossed a complete game in a 5-1 victory over Walford and was named the Pitcher of the Week. He pitched a five-hitter with seven strikeouts.

Walford loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh and brought the tying run to the plate, but Bell ended the game with a strikeout.

Saunders starred for Williamsburg in a sweep against Watkins. He went 5-for-5 in a 9-2 victory in the first game with three RBIs and three runs. He collected his sixth straight hit in the first inning of the nightcap and scored the game's only run in a 1-0 victory.

Bell, a Cedar Rapids Kennedy grad, was a senior at Mount Mercy University this year. Saunders, from Van Buren High School, was a freshman at Central College this season.


Fairfax, Williamsburg sweep IVL twinbills

Fairfax and Williamsburg swept their doubleheaders Sunday on the opening day of the 2016 Iowa Valley League season.

Fairfax swept Walford, 5-1 and 7-5. Williamsburg took both of its games from Watkins, 9-2 and 1-0.


WALFORD - Cody Bell pitched a complete game and had a two-run double as Fairfax topped Walford in the first game. Bell pitched a five-hitter with seven strikeouts.

Walford loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh and brought the tying run to the plate, but Bell finished the game with a strikeout.

Cody Williams had two hits for Fairfax and Tony Maiers contributed an RBI single.

Fairfax had 14 hits in the second game. Jimmy Lizarraga belted a home run and had three RBIs. Bell also smacked a home run. David Yancey, Lucas Larson, Maiers, Adam Stolley and Sam Hunter had two hits for the winners.



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."



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.



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