As Mid-Prairie baseball coach Tim Sauer gathered his team …
M-P sends coach out with win
As Mid-Prairie baseball coach Tim Sauer gathered his team for his final post-game meeting …
As Mid-Prairie baseball coach Tim Sauer gathered his team …
M-P sends coach out with win
As Mid-Prairie baseball coach Tim Sauer gathered his team for his final post-game meeting on Kos Field Friday night, he opened by saying one thing.
“Guys, I couldn’t have scripted tonight any better,” he said.
Sauer’s Golden Hawks ushered out the eight-year head coach of the program with a 9-0 win over Central City in his final game at Kos Field.
Senior Randy Woodruff and freshman Nick Luke kept the Wildcats scoreless over the seven-inng affair. Brian Hervey drove in three runs and doubled, while Jeff Gingerich also drove in three tallies to lead the Golden Hawk offense.
Prior to the victory, which sent M-P’s varsity to 21-10 on the season, Sauer reflected on his eight-year coaching career.
“I guess the thing I want people to remember most about my coaching here is that my kids always worked hard and I did everything for my players,” he said. “When I first got here in 1992, the only thing on this field were two dugouts (wooden benches on cement slabs) and three trench marks on the field.
“The program had had nine coaches in the previous 14 years,” he added. “I wanted to stay here and build a baseball program. I had heard stories of games getting underway at 4 p.m. and the umpires being able to get home by 8 p.m. and several of the coaches tell me they can’t believe how much the Mid-Prairie baseball program has improved.”
The improvement has shown itself nowhere more than in the field and the program record in recent seasons. From the two dugouts and three trenches, now there are billboards on the outfield fences, a new electronic scoreboard, lights, a pressbox, larger bleachers, refurbished dugouts, a new batting cage and a picnic bench by the concession stand… to name a few things.
“I remember painting 50 billboards over Easter break in 1994,” he said. “The field looks very good right now, but there are still some things to be done. There could be a new concession stand down the road and one day, the port-a-potties will be a thing of the past, too.
“I can’t take all of the credit for the improvements on this field, though,” he added. “The parents group of this program has been very good to me, especially this year. People like Shirley and Allen Kos, Peggy and Tom Duwa, Linda and Don Hartzler and others hold a special place in my heart for all of the work they have done for myself and the program.”
Those aren’t the only people that are close to Sauer’s heart. Along with the players and parents over his eight years, he has also had a good line of assistant coaches.
“To start out with a guy like Kelby (Bender) was great, he was a big help,” Sauer said. “Shawn (Kreman) was also a great assistant coach and now with Jeremy (Loria), I have another great assistant working with me.
“I have been fortunate in having great assistants to work with,” he added.
Greatest games, memories
With so many games and memories to chose from, Sauer whittled his list down to the following:
• “In my first year (1992), we had a game with Wilton where Allen Schneider and Tim McClaskey (a current major leaguer) hooked up in a great pitching battle here,” he said. “We didn’t have lights though and had to finish the game at Wilton the next night. We lost that game, but as far as getting the program up and running, that game was a key.”
• In 1997, with Brandon Harland as the only senior on the team, a game against Solon caught Sauer’s attention. “We were down in the second game of that doubleheader 14-3 after two innings,” he said. “I turned to coach Kreman and said to him that we only needed one pitcher to hold these guys down. We both kind of laughed a little, but then it started to happen.
“We pulled within 14-8, 14-9, 15-13 and 17-15,” he said. “Ryan Harland was zero for four at the plate and stepped up in the seventh. He hit the wall with the bases loaded and drove in the three runs to win the game 18-17.”
• Last year’s doubleheader sweep of Iowa City Regina also made the list. “Regina came in feeling they had second wrapped up,” he said. “We won both games right at the end and I remember Billy Hartsock scoring the winning run in the second game after Jon Hartzler doubled down the line. He crossed home plate and was mobbed.”
• Last year’s sweep of West Branch was also special. “Those were two great games,” he said. “I especially remember the Holy Roller play where Hartzler somehow got that ball to our second baseman without even controlling it for the final out of the second game.
“I guess, all in all, I have seen a lot of strange and special things in eight years,” he added.
The future for Sauer, program
Sauer will move to another area (the Independence school district) where he could move up on the baseball coaching ladder.
“I started out being an assistant in a 1A program and moved into a head job on the 2A level,” he said. “Now, I am moving into an awesome 3A program.
“I just felt like this was a great opportunity,” he added. “I am going into an area where there is family to be around, too. It just came down to the fact that I realized baseball isn’t life.”
As for who he would like to see take over the Golden Hawk program in the new millenium, Sauer pointed at the dugout Friday.
“The guy in that dugout is the guy I would like to see take the program over,” Sauer said of Loria. “Jeremy knows a lot of good baseball people… he played with Mike Potter, the Clear Creek-Amana coach, he plays in the Iowa Valley semi-pro league and knows a lot of people that way.
“I think this program needs a baseball mind,” he added. “Someone who knows the game and someone who knows how to approach the game and the kids in this day and age. You also have to work around other programs during the summer. There are basketball, football, wrestling and other sports camps going on that kids attend and you have to know how to work that out and try and stay successful.”
Continuing on about Loria, Sauer also pointed out that “the kids really like him, he is always at the field three to four hours ahead of time getting the billboards put up, raking the field and so on and he just knows what to do.”
As for the players, Sauer admitted last Monday’s announcement after the Tipton twinbill was “difficult.”
“That was one of the the most difficult things I have ever had to do,” he said. “I really love this team, and they have been a lot of fun to be around. However, we have all gone on about the rest of the season since then.”
Sauer’s two seniors, Arieux and Woodruff, who also ended their home careers Friday weren’t surprised about their coach’s announcement.
“I figured with the success he has had here, it was just a matter of time before he moved on,” Arieux said.
“He has been such a big help to both of us,” Woodruff said. “I think Jared would have to agree the biggest thing he has helped us with is our batting swing.”
As for Sauer, he feels like this year is an end to a chapter of his life.
“There will be a time I’m sure when I think about the fact that we don’t have any more home games and I won’t be able to get this place, a place I had a hand in building, ready anymore,” he added. “However, it’s just time to close this chapter.”
Before the rain that looked like it might hit Kos Field and rain out Friday’s game with Central City left the area, Sauer and his team didn’t have a very good memory of what could have been his final games at Kos Field.
The Mustangs rolled up 14 runs in the fifth and seven in the seventh to win game one 25-13. Mount Vernon wound up the evening with an 8-3 win in game two for a sweep.
“Every year against Mount Vernon, there seems to be one inning where we run into trouble,” Sauer said. “It happened again in the opener. We were up 7-4 in the fifth and I was closer than I had been in the past five years in beating (Mount Vernon).
“They are just so lethal,” he added. “We got the first out of the fifth and then we had a strikeout that turned into a baserunner on an error. From there, the dam broke and they just hit the ball everywhere.”
Jeff Bontrager finished three for three with a home run in the opener, while Hervey was four for four with sixth conference home run in game one. Arieux and Woodruff came back with three hits each in game two and Adam Kos also “hit the ball everywhere,” according to Sauer.
“We had 12 errors in game one and seven in game two,” he said. “It’s tough to beat a team the calibre of Mount Vernon when you make mistakes like that.”
The Golden Hawks opened up a 12-1 lead on the Pirates last Wednesday and had to hang on for a 12-6 win.
“(Jon) Troyer just ran into some control problems pitching when Alburnett had their big inning (five runs in the fifth),” Sauer said. “I brought (Adam) Kos in in relief and he set them down in order in two consecutive innings.
“Kos has been a very pleasant surprise from our bullpen,” he added. “He has pitched four innings so far and faced only 14 batters.”
Offensively, Hervey led the way with three hits, while Woodruff came up with two hits and Jeff Gingerich and Arieux each hit their fourth home runs of the season.
The second game of the doubleheader was rained out in the fourth inning. Alburnett held a 5-4 lead in the fourth inning, thanks in large part to eight Golden Hawk errors.
“We were on the verge of a comeback,” Sauer said.