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#1 Cherokee sinks 32-8 Solon in semifinals

Monday, July 28, 2008

An enthusiastic crowd of Cherokee Braves fans cheer on their team, during their State Tournament semi-final game win against Solon.
Ege's arm, Ruehle's 2-run single take Braves to title game

DES MOINES - A four-run fifth inning, keyed by savvy Kyle Ruehle's two-run single, propelled the #1 Cherokee Braves to a 6-2 Class 2A semifinal victory over Solon at the Iowa State Baseball Championships here on July 24th.

The game was decided in the fifth, as the two teams were tied at 2-2 when Solon ace Logan Potter walked Cherokee's first three batters - Tyler Jones, Matt Koch, and Mark Johnson. After the Braves' clean-up hitter Cody Ege popped up to shortstop, Ruehle came through for the second state tourney game in a row with a two-run single that plated Jones and Koch.

Designated hitter Tim Jones then picked up Johnson with a long sacrifice fly, and a bad throw to first on speedy Kyle Schuett's ground ball to third scored Ruehle for the 6-2 victory, after Ege shut down the Solon attack over the final two innings.

Ege was huge on the mound against an explosive young Solon club that starts four freshmen at key positions. He finished allowing two runs on five scattered hits and one walk, with 10 impressive strikeouts.

The Braves managed four earned runs on six hits and two walks, with five Ks in 4 2/3 innings against Potter. Freshman relliever Brandon Shulista, one of those promising Spartan freshmen, gave up one hit with one K in 1 1/3 innings.

"Cody did a heckuva job and worked himself out of a couple tough jams with some big strikeouts when we needed them," said Cherokee coach Scott Koch.

Cherokee's Kyle Ruehle calmly removes his batting gloves at first base as the Braves' Matt Koch, left, and Tyler Jones, right, getting a high five from his brother Tim (16), score on Ruehle's pivotal 2-run single in a Class 2A State Tournament win over Solon. Photo by Paul Struck.
"Solon (32-9) is very good and very young," noted Koch of the State Tournament's #3 seed in 2A, behind #1 seed Davenport Assumption and #2 seed Cherokee, the defending State Champions who were rated #1 all season long, and posted a 28-1 record to get to State.

Leading hitters for the Braves were Ruehle 2-3 with two RBI, Schuett 3-3 with a triple and RBI, Tyler Jones 1-3, and Scott Brown 1-3.

Matt Koch takes a pitch inside, during the Braves' semifinal State Tournament win over Solon on July 24. Photo by Paul Struck.
A key defensive play in the game for the Braves occurred in the fourth inning with the game knotted at 2-2, when Braves first baseman Kyle Schuck grabbed a hot ground ball and fired a strike to second base for a force out, then caught the return throw from shortstop Matt Koch to retire a Spartan threat with the nifty 3-6-3 double play.

The win set up a 2A State Championship rematch on July 26 featuring Assumption and Cherokee (30-1), which beat the 34-8 Davenport squad 5-4 in last year's State Championship game.

"Cherokee had our respect before the game and even more so now," said Solon coach Keith McSweeney. "Their pitcher did a nice job and kept the ball down.

"Cherokee has an outstanding team, Assumption has a great team, and the championship game should be a dandy."

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