Cyclones outlast Go-Hawks 7-6 in wild state semifinal
DES MOINES (July 27) -- Over the years, Harlan Community has dealt with its fair, or unfair, share of tough breaks while playing in the State Baseball Tournament at Principal Park.
On Friday afternoon, the Cyclones may have got one back.
Clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the seventh - the tying and lead runs on base for Waverly-Shell Rock - HCHS finished the game with a unique and fortunate double play to hold off the Go-Hawks 7-6 in a Class 3A state semifinal.
The Cyclones started the seventh up 7-4 courtesy of two big insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the margin was quickly cut to one on Jeremy Chaplin’s one-out, two-run homer off reliever Jacob Bartley.
Following a single by Carter Langreck, HCHS junior Riley Kohles relieved Bartley and promptly walked the first batter he faced. Kohles then hit Ryan Willis with a pitch, but the home plate umpire ruled that Willis moved his elbow into the ball and ordered him to continue the at-bat.
Moments later, Willis hit a ball to shortstop and the game-ending controversy ensued. Brett Sears fielded the grounder to his right and threw to second baseman Joey Moser for a force play on pinch-runner Brady Ramker, who knocked over Moser with his slide in front of the bag.
The second base umpire quickly called Ramker for an illegal slide, resulting in a game-ending double play.
As the top-ranked, second-seeded Cyclones (33-3) celebrated a fourth straight trip to the state finals - only the seventh Iowa baseball team to accomplish that feat - the seventh-ranked, sixth-seeded Go-Hawks contemplated a sudden end to their 34-8 season.
“Just for it to end that way is unfortunate,” said W-SR coach Casey Klunder. “It’s not about the coaches, it’s not about the umpire. We’re here for the kids. Let’s let them decide all 21 outs.
“We’ll see it on TV... Our kids battled hard, as did Harlan’s... and it was a fun game to be a part of.”
Klunder said he was told by the second base umpire that Ramker slid into second with his cleats four inches off the ground. The video replay indicated otherwise and also showed that Moser was in Ramker’s sliding path.
“That was a fortunate break because they’ve still got a guy on third and a guy on first if we don’t get that call,” said HCHS head coach Steve Daeges.
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