Ege pitches 5th-rated Cherokee to big Lakes win
ESTHERVILLE - The fifth-rated Class 2A Cherokee Braves popped an undefeated 10th-ranked Estherville-LC club 7-0 here Tuesday night in an abbreviated five-inning baseball game shortened by rain and lightning.
The big lakes Conference bash featured two of the highly-regarded teams in Northwest Iowa, with the host Midgets boasting a 5-0 record to the Braves 1-0 mark (two rain outs) coming into the game. Play was stopped in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Braves ahead 7-0, reverting back to the official fifth inning.
As it was, the game featured two of the most successful pitchers in the state, with Cherokee's Cory Ege getting the win after a two-hit, shutout performance that included no walks and seven strikeouts.
Estherville-LC's Matt Gruhlke, a superb pitcher and hitter, as is Ege, took the loss, allowing two earned runs on four hits and three walks, with six strikeouts. Both are first-team all-staters from last season.
The opportunistic Braves made their timely chances count against Gruhlke, with Kyle Ruehle leading the way with two hits in two trips, including a double and RBI. Michael Boothby was 1-2 with two RBI, Tyler Jones 1-3 with an RBI, and Mark Johnson 1-3 to account for all five of Cherokee's hits.
The Braves scored seven runs on five hits and commited one error, while the Midgets scored no run on two hits and had three fielding miscues.
One of those errors was a stunner as Cherokee's Kyle Schuett laid down a sacrifice bunt with a runner on first and the force-out throw to second base sailed into center field, getting by the E-LC center fielder. The speedy Schuett, a leading sprinter for the Braves track and field team, then circled the bases to score two runs on the play.
"I'd never seen that before," said veteran Cherokee coach Scott Koch, who returned to the Braves helm this season after a few years of retirement. "Kyle is really fast and he raced around those bases in a very short time.
"Estherville is a very good team and we took advantage of the opportunities we had. We're off to a good start and we'll have to see how goes from now on."
Cherokee hosts Sheldon here Friday and then hosts a four-team tournament Saturday, also featuring Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, Sioux City East, and JSPC (Jefferson-Scranton/Paton-Churdan).