The Harlan Community baseball team stands behind its eighth consecutive State Baseball Tournament qualifying banner following last Wednesday’s 6-0 substate final victory over Winterset at Jim Goeser Field. The top-ranked and number two-seeded Cyclones will face Boone in a Class 3A state quarterfinal game Tuesday night at Principal Park. HCHS junior Brett Sears, who recorded his 100th strikeout of the season on the final pitch vs. Winterset last Wednesday, will take the mound against Boone Tuesday night at Principal Park. (Photo by Mike Oeffner)

Cyclones taking on deep 3A field at Principal Park

Led by defending champion Assumption, Class 3A state tourney teams have won 21 baseball titles; HCHS (31-3) faces Boone (24-8) in opening round

 DES MOINES (July 24) -- You know you’ve got a deep state tournament field when teams with the recent baseball tradition of Solon and Waverly-Shell Rock aren’t even seeded in the top four.
 That’s the type of competition Harlan Community will be up against this week when the Class 3A State Baseball Tournament gets underway at Principal Park in Des Moines.
 Of the eight teams in 3A, seven have combined to win 21 state championships, led by Davenport Assumption’s 10. The top-seeded, third-ranked Knights (31-10) graduated seven starters from last year’s title winner but are back at state for a 16th time and looking to improve on their unparalleled 34-5 state tourney record.
 Last year’s 3A runner-up, HCHS, owns three state titles, most recently in 2016, and has placed second four times since 2008. Bishop Heelan, Solon and Boone have all won two state titles, Waverly-Shell Rock beat Harlan for the 2015 crown and 2016 runner-up Carlisle won a 2A title in 2003.
 “There’s six teams that have 31 wins, so I think this is one of the strongest [3A] fields overall that we’ve seen in a while,” said Cyclone head coach Steve Daeges.
 If anyone would know, it’s Daeges, who has now guided eight consecutive Cyclone teams to state and 16 overall in his 25 years at the helm. The last three have played in the 3A state title game.
 HCHS, ranked first by the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association, takes a 31-3 record to Des Moines. The second-seeded Cyclones will take on seventh-seeded Boone (24-8) in the last of four 3A state quarterfinal games Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The winner will face either third-seeded Carlisle (33-7) or sixth-seeded Waverly-Shell Rock (33-7) in Friday’s semifinal round (first pitch at either 11 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.).
 The expected pitching matchup Tuesday night will be HCHS junior Brett Sears (9-1, 1.06 ERA) vs. Toreador senior Evan Appenzeller (9-3, 2.45 ERA). Both pitched a shutout in their respective substate final games - Sears blanking Winterset on four hits with 11 Ks and Appenzeller tossing a three-hitter with 13 Ks vs. Humboldt.

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