CARROLL - Cherokee's incomparable Braves baseball team unloaded an 8-run fifth inning on a very good Fort Dodge St. Edmond's club here on July 16th to win the Class 2A Substate Championship game and advance to the Iowa State Baseball Championships in Des Moines beginning July 18th.
The 28-1 Braves, seeded second at this year's State, will meet seven-seed Okoboji (22-9) in quarterfinal action at 2 p.m. on July 19th in Principal Park in Des Moines. If Cherokee wins that game, they would play the Solon-Waterloo Columbus Catholic winner at 2 p.m. on July 24, with the 2A State Championship scheduled for noon on Saturday, July 26. Solon is the three seed, and Waterloo the six seed.
The #1 seed, Davenport Assumption (32-8), meets eight-seed Pleasantville (16-8) in the other bracket at noon Friday; with four-seed Saint Ansgar (28-8) playing five-seed Interstate 35 Truro (23-0) in that quarterfinal at 2 p.m.
Cherokee, the defending 2A State Champions, beat Assumption 5-4 in the title game last year. The Braves have been ranked #1 all season long, and Assumption has been second.
Cherokee took out a talented St. Edmond's team that was rated fourth all season here on July 16, and sported a snazzy 30-4 record heading into the Substate loss to the Braves.
Cherokee's win over the Gaels took two days, with the game suspended Tuesday night here due to lightning and rain. The Braves were batting in the top of the second inning with runners on first and second and Tim Jones at the plate with a 3-2 count.
The game resumed Wednesday night at that point and Cherokee scored the game's first run when Kyle Schuett singled in Matt Pitts, who was running for pitcher Cody Ege, who had walked.
St. Ed's answered in the bottom of the second with one run, before the Braves took a 2-1 lead in the third when Kyle Schuck scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Matt Koch.
The game stayed at that score into the decisive fifth inning when Koch led off with a booming triple that ripped open the floodgates for the explosive Cherokee offense. When all was said and done, the Braves had scored eight runs, led 10-1, and knocked out Gales ace Joey Flattery.
Major blows in that inning from the Braves came on Tyler Jones RBI double, Koch's three-run home run, and timely RBI hits from Schuett, Ege, Tyler Jones and Tim Jones.
On the mound for the Braves, super sophomore Cody Ege shut down the dangerous St. Edmond's hitting attack, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk, with three strikeouts in five innings of work. Ege is 12-0 so far this year for the Braves and posts the 2A state field's lowest ERA at .93.
Leading 10-1, Cherokee brought in fireballer Matt Koch to pitch the final two frames and he allowed two hits, one unearned run, and struck out two to get the save. Koch is 5-0 as a starter for the Braves.
Leading hitters for the Braves were Koch, 3-4 with a home run and two triples, and four RBI; Tyler Jones 2-5 with a double and two RBI; Ege 2-2 wth an RBI; Schuett 2-4 with two RBI; Tim Jones RBI single; and singles by Johnson, Ruehle, and Scott Brown.
The Braves pounded out 13 hits and committed two errors, while the Gaels had six hits and two errors.
"We did a nice job handling the suspended game," said Cherokee coach Scott Koch, last year's 2A Coach Of The Year, and District Coach Of The Year. "We had a big fifth inning."