Class 2A Substate 1 ELC put everything together to earn first state bid since 2008
CHEROKEE – With a trip to the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament on the line, Cherokee gave Estherville Lincoln Central its best effort as the teams met in the Substate 1 game in Cherokee on Tuesday. The Braves’ best wasn’t good enough against an ELC squad that pounded out nine hits, drew eight walks and took advantage of four Cherokee errors in a 13-6 Midget victory.
The Midgets advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2008 and the third time in school history. They will play at Principal Park in Des Moines with the opponent and time to be determined as one 2A Substate game was postponed until Wednesday evening. All Class 2A quarterfinal games will be played Monday with times of 11 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
“From the first guy in the dugout to the last guy in the dugout, this is a true team and that’s what it takes to get down there,” said ELC head coach Lee Evans, who was an assistant coach when the Midgets went to state in 2008. “I couldn’t be more happy for these kids. They’ve done a great job all year.”
ELC doesn’t have a senior on the roster with six juniors in the starting, and other juniors providing filling in as needed. One of those juniors is Evan Olesen, who has pitched in all three playoff games and went six innings against Cherokee on Tuesday. He finished giving up four runs (two earned) on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
“I felt I had the pressure off with all our run support,” said Olesen, whose teammates scored six runs in the bottom of the second to open up a 6-1 lead. “It’s easier to throw with 13 runs.”
Olesen is looking forward to the trip to Des Moines.
“I’m looking forward to playing on the big stage and hoping we can step up to the occasion,” he said. “It will be a lot of fun.”
Tuesday was the third meeting between ELC?and Cherokee with the Midgets winning both previous contests.
After the Braves took the early 1-0 lead, Cherokee’s defense had a couple big letdowns in the bottom of the second.
Bennett Look led off with a single to left field, stole second and came around to score when Trevor Friesner reached on a throwing error by the Braves’ third baseman. Friesner took three bases on the play and scored when Seth Loock hit a one-out single through the right side of the infield.
After a walk to Trey Jacobson, a pitch got past the Cherokee catcher to move both runners into scoring position. Jacob Bosch took advantage of the situation with a single up the middle to score both runs. While courtesy runner Noah Heifner was out on the force at second after a grounder by Rowley, Rowley stole second a moment later. Olesen then hit a high pop up to the third baseman that was dropped. Rowley was halfway home when drop occurred and scored easily. Another Cherokee error on a hit by Lucas Gardner allowed Olesen to come around to score.
The Midgets kept the pressure on the Cherokee defense in the fourth inning. Singles by Jacobson and Bosch and a walk to Rowley loaded the bases. The Braves looked to get out of the inning after getting a force out and home plate and a strikeout. But Bennett Loock worked the count and drew a walk to bring one run in. Friesner drove in another run as the third baseman bobble his grounder and his throw was late. A walk to Blake Miller brought one more run in as ELC led 9-1.
Cherokee went to work with two outs in the top of the fifth. After Olesen gave up his second walk of the night, the Braves came up with a single and a two-run double. After another single, an ELC error allowed one more Cherokee run to score before Olesen ended the inning with his seventh strikeout of the night.
ELC wasn’t done either as they added four runs in the sixth inning. Gardner led off with a single, stole second and Friesner was hit by a pitch. Another walk to Miller loaded the bases. Loock singled to score Gardner and the throw came home in attempt to get Friesner, who was already at the plate. The Cherokee catcher then tried to throw out Loock heading to second base, but the Brave infield wasn’t home as Michael Houseman, pinch running for Miller, came home too. Loock went to third on a passed ball and scored when Jacobson grounded out to second, as ELC led 13-4.
Cherokee tried to rally in the seventh with two runs scoring on a two-out error by ELC, but a pop-up to right field ended with a running catch by Noah Heifner.
Gardner pitched the final inning of relief and recorded two strikeouts.
At the plate for ELC, Bosch and Seth Loock each were 2-4 while Bennett Loock was 1-2, Friesner was 1-3 and Jacobson, Olesen and Gardner each were 1-4. Seth Loock had three RBIs, Bosch had two and Jacobson, Rowley, Bennett Loock and Miller each had one.