Thursday, February 22, 2018
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Iowa Valley League

Franzenburg still going strong at 36

WATKINS - Luke Franzenburg planned on calling it quits after last season.

A player with Watkins in the Iowa Valley League since 2000, Franzenburg had been player/manager for the Mud Hens the past three seasons.

"I was managing the last three years and it was getting to be too much of a time commitment away from family and away from work," he said.

When Franzenburg and his wife Steph told their three children, Avery, Finley and Tade of his decision there were plenty of tears.

"They were pretty bummed when we told them," Franzenburg said. "I talked to the team and they said they would find somebody to manage if I would just keep coming out and throwing for them."

Needless to say, a manager was found and the children were happy to see dad back on the mound.

The 36-year-old left-hander came on in relief in the opener of the annual holiday doubleheader contests against Norway with the Mud Hens holding a 3-1 lead. He struck out four and allowed just two hits in picking up the save as Watkins won, 5-2, at Gabe Kuester Memorial Ball Park.



LED lights illuminate Norway field

NORWAY - The history of baseball in this small Eastern Iowa town is legendary.

Much of that history has taken place on the Norway Baseball Field that served as home to the 20-time state high school champion Norway Tigers until the school closed in 1991.

Now, thanks to the Norway Baseball Association, a group of Norway baseball boosters, headed up by former Norway baseball coach Jim Van Scoyoc, the field with so much history associated with it has undergone a number of upgrades, ensuring more baseball memories will be made in future years.

The latest upgrade was the installation of LED lighting. The  state-of-the-art lighting system, created by Musco Lighting, was first used on June 7.

"The lights have worked as advertised," Van Scoyoc said. "Musco leads the field in this and it really shows.

"I was out working on the field one day and they were testing them," he said. "I looked right into them and it about blinded me. They are powerful."

The field, the home of the Iowa Valley League's Norway Bandits, became part of the Benton Community School District when Norway closed. Since then the field had been used for a variety of baseball events. As time passed, the field began to need upgrades.



Czerwiec shines again for Fairfax

WALFORD - It won't be necessary to wait until the season is over to name the Pitcher of the Year in the Iowa Valley League.

They can give it to Austin Czerwiec right now.

Czerwiec tossed a two-hitter Sunday and raised his record to 6-0 as Fairfax topped Walford, 4-1, in the first game of their doubleheader at Walford.

Fairfax took the second game, 8-1, and now has a three-game lead in the Iowa Valley League standings at 11-1 with four weeks left in the campaign.

Czerwiec, who pitched at Mount Mercy, has pitched six times for Fairfax in the first six weeks of the season and he's won every time.

Alex Hayden and Adam Lloyd had RBI singles for Fairfax in the first game.

Fairfax scored eight runs in the bottom of the sixth inning of the  second game to erase a 1-0 deficit and prevail 8-1. Cody Bell picked up the victory in relief.



Corson lifts Norway to IVL split

NORWAY - Norway had little time to recover from a 9-3 loss to Red Top in the first game of an Iowa Valley League twinbill Sunday.

The Bandits were held hitless for five innings by Red Top starter Cole McDonald, scoring late off the Red Top bullpen.

Enter Brady Corson.

The left-hander survived a rough first inning in Game 2, giving up a run and a pair of hits. He would give up nothing after that, walking only two the rest of the way as the Bandits rolled to a 10-1 victory to earn a split.

Corson, a Cedar Falls High School graduate who just finished his sophomore season at Cal-State San Marcos, had what had been a hot hitting Red Top unit off balance much of the game.

"Coming out of the bullpen I felt good tonight," Corson said. "The defense behind me played great. We had a tough first inning but we still made it work.

"I felt like I had my command as I kept going," he said. "It wasn't just me. I got a lot of help from the defense."



Fairfax sweeps twinbill from Norway

WALFORD - Fairfax continued its dream season Sunday by sweeping a doubleheader from the Norway Bandits in Walford.

Fairfax won both games by a single run, taking the opener 1-0 and prevailing 7-6 in the nightcap in eight innings.

Fairfax reached the halfway point of the Iowa Valley League season with a 9-1 record, good for a two-game lead over Red Top.

Austin Czerwiec tossed a five-hit shutout for Fairfax in the 1-0  victory in the first game for his fifth victory of the season. Walker Breard had an RBI double in the first inning for the only run in the  well-played game, driving in Cody Williams.

Jordan Hanlon pitched a four-hitter for Norway. JT Sole had two hits for the Bandits.

The second game was tied, 5-5, after seven innings. Norway took a 6-5 lead in the top of the eighth, but Fairfax responded with two runs in the bottom of the eighth for the victory.



Big innings lift Walford to sweep

WATKINS - The Walford Hogs came into Sunday's doubleheader with Watkins at the bottom of the Iowa Valley League standings.

Coach Kevin Moser has had to juggle his roster for a variety of reasons and it showed as the Hogs got off to a 1-7 start through the  first four weeks of league play.

That changed on Sunday. Walford used a five-run fourth-inning outburst in the opener to post a 6-1 win, then rallied from a 7-2 deficit in the nightcap, scoring six again in the fifth inning en route to an  11-7 triumph at Gabe Kuester Memorial Ball Park.

After a pair of tough losses last week at home to Red Top, the Hogs showed Sunday they will be a force as the second half of the league schedule begins next week.

"A lot of these guys are college ballplayers and they know how to fight and never give up," Moser said.

The roster has changed quite a bit since the opening week of the season. Moser admitted it was tough to build any real team chemistry.



Fairfax sweeps IVL games from Watkins

WATKINS - Fairfax got more good pitching Sunday and swept an Iowa  Valley League doubleheader from Watkins, 5-1 and 2-1, at Watkins.

Austin Czerwiec raised his record to 4-0 for Fairfax with the victory in Game 1. He struck out eight batters and was named the IVL Pitcher of the Week.

Alex Hayden belted a two-run homer in the seventh inning for Fairfax.

Blake Hargens collected the victory for Fairfax in Game 2 with help from Adam Lloyd, who got the save. Hayden had the game-winning hit with an RBI single in the fourth inning.

Fairfax raised its record to 7-1 and sits alone in first place.



"Hellerball" alive and well in IVL

WALFORD - Just two short weeks ago, the University of Iowa baseball team came within an eyelash of hosting an NCAA Super Regional.

Many of the Hawkeyes on the field during that memorable weekend of baseball in Houston were back at it again Sunday as members of the Red  Top and Walford teams in the Iowa Valley League.

And, as fate would have it, two Hawkeye hurlers went against each other in the opening game of a doubleheader. Red Top's Cole McDonald  and Walford's Elijah Wood both showed that Iowa fans should feel good about the future of the pitching staff for Coach Rick Heller.

In the end, it was McDonald who prevailed, with a huge assist from reliever Jack Greene in the bottom of the seventh as Red Top held on for a 4-3 win. Coach Adam Sadler's team completed the sweep, taking the nightcap, 6-3, behind a complete game effort from Anthony Gagliardi.

The win was also sweet for McDonald as he got the win in front of his father, Cory, who, along with the rest of the McDonald family, made a surprise trip to watch his son pitch on Father's Day.

"I knew my grandpa would be here," McDonald said. "I didn't know my family was going to come and watch. It was nice that they took the time to drive down."



Roby tosses 2-hitter for Norway

WALFORD - Otis Roby tossed a two-hit shutout as the Norway Bandits blanked the Walford Hogs, 2-0, in the first game on an Iowa Valley League doubleheader Saturday at Walford.

Norway cruised in the second game, 15-3.

Roby had two hits in the 2-0 victory. Colton Rose and Caleb Stekl collected RBIs for Norway.

Ty Mougin pitched a four-hitter for Walford in the setback. Bryce Grimm had two hits for the Hogs.

JT Sole collected four hits, four RBIs and four runs for Norway in the second game. Christian Stekl had two hits and four runs. Tony Salato scored three times. Roby had two more hits and scored twice. Jordan Hanlon pitched a complete game for the Bandits.

Brennan Hammer had two hits for Walford in the second game.



Jamesson delivers for Watkins (twice)

NORWAY - Cale Jamesson belted a two-run homer to give Watkins a two-run lead over Red Top in extra innings Sunday.

Then he did it again.

Jamesson's back-to-back blasts helped the Mudhens defeat Red Top, 5-3, in 10 innings on a hot, windy day in Norway.

Red Top dominated the second game in the Iowa Valley League doubleheader, 9-0.

Watkins and Red Top were locked in a 1-1 battle in the opener when Jamesson hit a two-run rocket over the left-field fence to give the Mudhens a 3-1 lead in the top of the eighth.

Red Top tied the game, 3-3, in the bottom of the eighth, but Jamesson smacked another two-run shot to left field in the top of the 10th and this time it gave the Mudhens the lead for good.

"Being able to come up in that position again was really fun," said Jamesson, a Benton Community grad who played for Cornell College this past season as a freshman. "I put everything I had into it."



Van Scoyoc boosts Norway in IVL

NORWAY - Arizona State freshman Spencer Van Scoyoc struck out 10  batters in 5 1/3 innings Sunday to help Norway top Watkins, 10-2, in  the first game of an Iowa Valley League doubleheader in Norway.

Otis Roby, Tony Salato and J.T. Sole belted home runs for Norway. Roby  and Salato had three hits.

The Bandits took control with five runs in the fifth inning.

Watkins rebounded with an 8-2 victory in the second game behind a  complete game by Luke Franzenburg. DJ Utley and Phil Velez socked home  runs for the Mudhens. Jonny Frese and Conner Frese had two hits for  the winners.

Travis Mueller hit a home run for Norway.



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