DES MOINES - It is often said in athletics that good teams find a way.
So be it for the Cherokee Braves in first-round action at the Class 2A Iowa State Baseball Championships here Friday. They found a way to defeat a pesky Bondurant-Farrar team 3-2 and advance to the State Semifinals here at noon Thursday against North Fayette, West Union.
The Hawks (35-7) handled Gladbrook-Reinbeck (23-6) 11-4 in the second game here Friday in 2A action for the privilege of meeting the #1 Braves (29-2) here Thursday, winner to the 2A Championship game at noon Saturday.
Cherokee scored one run in the second and two more in the third to tally enough runs to win it after superlative pitching efforts by Cherokee starter Kyle Ruehle, and reliever Matt Koch. The Bluejays scored once in the third and once in the fifth to stay in contention against the gritty Braves.
Bluejay starter Craig Sheehan allowed three runs on five hits and two walks, wth two strikeouts in three innings. Bluejay ace Grant Pinkley pitched the final four frames and gave up no runs on two hits and two walks, with four Ks.
Cherokee scored its first run in the second inning after Ruehle walked and a Cody Ege single sent pinch-runner Dillon Moye to third. Michael Boothby then grounded out deep to shortstop to plate Moye with the game's first run.
The Braves tacked on two more critical runs in the third highlighted by Cory Ege's RBI triple, and Tim Jones's RBI fielder's choice ground-out.
Ruehle led the Cherokee hitting attack with a 3-3 game and run scored, while Cory Ege was 1-2 with an RBI triple, Kyle Schuett 1-2, Cody Ege 1-3, Tyler Jones 1-4, and Tim Jones 0-3 with an RBI.
"They're a good team," said Cherokee coach Scott Koch of the 16-15-1 Bluejays who had won four games in a row in tourney play to make the state tourney.
"We played well under pressure and our defense played well. We got three big outs at home on great plays by (catcher) Tyler Jones, and (left fielder) Matthew Boothby. Cory also made a super play at shortstop that helped kill a rally.
"Allowing just two runs at the State Tournament speaks well for our pitching. Our bats weren't there like usual, but we'll come around."