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Koch leads Braves to 1-0 State win!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

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Cherokee senior pitcher Matt Koch fires a pitch while leading the Braves to victory at the State Tournament Monday night. Photo by Paul Struck
Schulenburg, Hummel team up for winning run

DES MOINES - Cherokee's senior third baseman Phillip Schulenburg, with the weight of his entire team and thousands of cheering fans squatting on his every move, calmly lined a 1-and-1 fastball down the third-base line barely past the diving defender to score teammate Jakob Hummel with the game's only run ro give the Braves a scintillating 1-0, 11-inning, Class 2A State Baseball Championship quarterfinal win over Gilbert here Monday night.

Hummel, a promising sophomore who plays a variety of positions for the 26-3 Braves, doubled just ahead of Schulenburg on a hot grounder up the middle that ricocheted off the second baseman's glove into short left field. That big two-out hit and hustle set the table for Schulenberg's heroics that sends the Braves into Thursday's 8 p.m. semifinal against 32-10 Dyersville Beckman, a 5-4 winner over Interstate 35-Truro (24-2) here Monday night.

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Cherokee's Kyle Schuett watches a pitch into the catcher's mitt during Monday's big State Tournament victory. Photo by Paul Struck
Along with the Schulenburg/Hummel heroics, the night belonged to Cherokee senior pitcher Matt Koch and Gilbert ace, sophomore Joe Goodman, who locked horns for nine innings of shutout baseball.

Koch allowed no runs on five hits (three in first inning) and one walk, with 10 strikeouts, and Goodman gave up no runs on six hits and four walks with 10 Ks. Pitchers can only throw nine innings in one day in Iowa High School baseball.

Cherokee's Cody Ege, who has never lost a high school game he has pitched, relieved Koch and gave up one hit and one walk while striking out three in two innings of work. Ege will get the start Thursday night against Dyersville Beckman.

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The entire Cherokee Braves baseball team rushes to first base to congratulate teammat Phillip Schulenburg, whose single scored the game's only run in the thrilling 11-inning State touney win. Photo by Paul Struck
The Braves scored the winning run off Gilbert (25-6) reliever Blake Debont, who gave up one run on two hits and two walks, with two Ks in two innings of work.

Schulenberg led the Braves with two hits and the winning RBI, while Matt Koch had two hits, and Hummel, Tyler Jones, Matt Pitts, and Ege one apiece.

"The team played an outstanding game," said a relieved Cherokee coach Scott Koch. "We had good defense and pitching."

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Steppin' up Although outstanding pitching dominated the Cherokee Braves thrilling 1-0, 11-inning Class 2A State Baseball Championship quarterfinal victory over a gritty Gilbert team in Des Moines Monday night, the Cherokee duo of Phillip Schulenburg, left, and Jakob Hummel teamed to produce the game's lone run to give the Braves the big win. Hummel doubled and Schulenburg singled him in with two outs in the bottom of the 11th inning, sending the team and hundreds of Braves fans into total delirium. Photo by Paul Struck
The Braves turned two double plays and Jones threw out two base runners from his catcher's position, both at first base where Ege briskly applied the tag.

Cherokee stranded 12 base runners - a team shortcoming this season - and Gilbert left five on base.

The Braves, the 2007 State Champions and runner-up in 2008, are now 7-3 in State games at Principal Park and have won six of their last seven played here.

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Cherokee's Matt Koch waits for the pitch while teammate Brandon Henke eases down the third-base line and coach Scott Koch watches at the State tourney Monday night in Des Moines. Photo by Paul Struck
Monday's game was the second-longest scoreless contest in State Tournament history. The longest was 12 innings by Cherokee and Davenport Central in 1976, eventually won 2-0 by Central.



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