Baseball is only one sport Derek Wrage and Chandler Sturtz excel in. Baseball is the sport the two 2014 Newton Senior High School graduates “love” to play the most.
Wrage and Sturtz decided during their senior year at Newton to pursue college playing careers in baseball. They wind up their final season in the Red and Black for the Cardinals, then the two teammates go their separate ways into NCAA Division III baseball programs.
Wrage heads to Cornell College at Mount Vernon to play for the Rams. Sturtz will play for the Central College Dutch at Pella.
“I’ve always played baseball as I grew up and wanted to play at the college level,” Wrage said. “I made my visit to Cornell and really liked the coaches and players. It was the right fit for me. It’s a good opportunity to keep playing baseball.”
Wrage is a left-handed pitcher and first baseman for Newton. He said Cornell recruited him mainly as a pitcher. In four years pitching for the Cardinals, Wrage has a 14-16 record and had four saves his junior season. He has allowed 200 hits, walked 73 batters and struck out 119.
The left-hander has a 5-4 mark this season with a 1.71 earned run average. Wrage has allowed 43 hits, issued 13 walks and struck out 28.
“I give them another left-hand arm in the bullpen. I consider myself a player who is always mentally prepared to play whenever called upon,” Wrage said. “I can hit spots with my pitches and work around batters. My change-up is my best pitch.”
Cornell College’s Rams just completed their most successful baseball season in more than a decade, according to the college athletic website. The Rams, which play in the Midwest Conference, went 21-17 in 2014.
Wrage has doubled his production at the plate since a year ago. He is batting at a .337 clip with 29 hits. Wrage has four doubles for the Cardinals this season and 16 RBIs.
Wrage is the son of Jeff and Penny Wrage of Newton. He plans to major in secondary education at Cornell College.
Sturtz is following family tradition and pursuing an opportunity to continue to play baseball by choosing Central College in Pella.
“My whole family has gone to Central, plus it is a great fit for me, both for baseball and academics,” Sturtz said. “I like the coaching staff and what they are doing with the baseball program.
Central’s Dutch finished a 26-16 season, going 17-11 in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, in 2014. The Dutch were the 2012 Iowa Conference champions at 29-11 (19-5).
Sturtz is the starting Cardinal shortstop. He has a .930 fielding average with 48 putouts and 10 errors. Sturtz, who hits from the left side of the plate, has a .240 batting average with 23 hits. He has three doubles and one triple, scoring 14 runs and driving in 16 runs.
Over his four years for Newton, Sturtz had 61 hits and drove in 31 runs. He had seven doubles.
“I’m going in as a middle infielder,” Sturtz said of Central. “I’m going with the attitude of doing whatever the coaches ask me to do for the team. I believe I can be competitive and contribute quickly.”
Sturtz also pitched for the Cardinals this season. He is 2-5 as starter on the mound with a 2.26 earned run average. He has struck out 18 and issued four walks.
“Baseball is my favorite sport. I looked at going to college to play soccer or basketball, but baseball is the one I enjoy the most,” Sturtz said.
Sturtz is the son of Stan and Carma Sturtz of Newton. He said he is undecided on a study of field at college.
Wrage and Sturtz still have business to finish for NHS. They help lead the Cardinals into Class 4A substate tournament action tonight. They play Ankeny Centennial in a first-round game at 7 p.m. at Northview Middle School in Ankeny.