116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
SOLON — Baseball was the backdrop. More of a vessel for something grander.
The more important part of the day remained on the periphery of all the hits, runs and catches.
Six baseball communities came together for the annual Fight with Flash Foundation Crosstown Classic, featuring three high school contests and a youth tournament in a daylong charity event at Solon Rec and Nature Area Saturday.
The Fight with Flash Foundation started the affair in 2015 in honor of Austin “Flash” Schroeder, who died after a yearlong battle with T-cell lymphoma. The organization has raised nearly $600,000 for Adolescent Young Adult Cancer Program at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital in their mission to serve children, adolescents and young adults and their families when faced with a cancer diagnosis.
“Today, there’s something extra,” Iowa City West junior Ryne Vander Leest said. “It’s a great environment. It’s a big cause. I really love the Schroeder family and everything they’re doing for everyone.”
Iowa City High opened the competition with an 8-1 victory over Solon. West followed with a 10-2 win over Iowa City Regina. Iowa City Liberty closed the slate of games with a 21-15 win over Clear Creek Amana.
Despite being removed from Schroeder’s involvement in West’s youth program, the current players are very aware of the campaign. Members of all teams wore “Fight with Flash” warmup shirts that donned Schroeder’s number 22 on the back.
“We remind them to enjoy what you’re doing,” Trojans Coach Charlie Stumpff said. “Take care of each other, because there are no guarantees anyway. They get it. We have really good kids and they understand that kind of stuff.
“What we do is a game to have fun with. There are kids out there struggling with cancer and mental health. You have this activity where everybody can put away their competitive juices and come together for a big cause. I think that’s the bigger thing.”
The day was filled with contests, tournaments, a silent auction, drawings and messages to promote causes that have impacted these communities. This year, the classic joined with the OS14 Foundation and the I’m Glad You Stayed Project devoted to mental health awareness. The OS14 Foundation was created in remembrance of late Liberty athlete Owen Skelley, who died unexpectedly March 3 at the age of 15.
“At the end of the day, we’re all playing the same sport and we’re all teenagers,” Vander Leest said. “It’s been tough with Covid. One of the toughest eras to grow up in, but you have to recognize that at the end of the day we’re playing a game we love. Even though we’re competing, you have to realize that.”
The OS14 Foundation gave all players a memorial baseball with the organization logo and shared a message with them after the game.
“You matter,” a representative from the OS14 Foundation said over the PA during the West-Regina game. “The world is not better without you.”
Baseball was still at the center of the activities. West improved to 12-9 and got back to its winning ways after going 1-5 earlier in the week.
“Our guys came out with pretty good energy,” Stumpff said. “Wins are always a good way to finish off a week.
“Wins always help. They give you a little bit of wind under your sail.”
The Trojans manufactured a run in the first and added two in the third thanks to a Nate Stephens RBI groundout and Cade Adkins’ second home run of the season. Noah DeSaulniers had an RBI single in the five-run fifth. West tacked on two more in the sixth
Vander Leest went 1-for-1 with two runs and two RBIs. Adkins scored three runs and Jacob Baum went 1-for-1 with an RBI and reached base all three at-bats.
“I think we bounced back really well,” Vander Leest said. “I’m proud of the way we came back and fought with energy.”
Ethan VonHarz had two hits and an RBI and Cameron Lehman had a hit and RBI for Regina (9-5).