Cyclones mercy Trojans for first round victory
Senior Cyclone Stephen Leinen pitched six innings, throwing 101 pitches, striking out 12 batters Friday night in the 3A-8 First Round Tournament game en route to a 12-2 mercy rule victory over the Atlantic Trojans.
“The fastball and curveball was working,” Leinen said. “I kept throwing it, kept knotting it up and they were missing the swings, so that worked really well. On the ones that I didn’t strike them out, the defense had my back really well.”
In the top of the 1st inning, the Trojans struck first, but the Cyclones came right back to tie the game in the bottom half of the inning when Jozef Reisz stepped to the plate, hitting a 2-out RBI single scoring Quinn Koesters that tied the game at one.
Leinen returned the mound in the top of the 2nd inning and shut the Trojan offense down striking out the side.
In the bottom of the 2nd inning, Matthew Sorfonden scored on a error by Atlantic to give the Cyclones a 2-1 lead and later extended their lead by two when Cael Goshorn connected at the plate for an RBI single scoring catcher Hayden Soma to make it 3-1 for the Cyclones.
Trojan Tanner O’Brien got his team right back in the game in the top of the 4th inning when he got an RBI single, making it a 3-2 Cyclones lead. But not long after, O’Brien attempted to steal second base, but was thrown out by Soma to end the inning.
The Cyclones offense got going again in the bottom of the 4th when Koesters smacked an RBI single scoring Landen Kaufman, making it 4-2 Cyclones.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, the Cyclones busted the game wide open dropping five runs starting with a 2-run single by Matthew Sorfonden, a 2-run triple by Cade Sears and an RBI single by Koesters putting the Cyclones up 9-2.
“We came out swinging,” Sorfonden said. “That was kind of our thing all week. We’ve kind of been on a little losing streak, but we’re going to play when it’s time and it’s time right now, so everyone came up, they had good approaches and we’re just poking the ball around and making them play.”
Leinen returned to the mound in the top of the 6th inning and recorded his 12th strikeout of the night on his 101st pitch to end the inning and get his team pumped up.
“He [Leinen] had command of everything tonight,” said Cyclones Head Coach Heath Stein. “He was throwing it where he wanted up in counts and burying them. Breaking balls, fastball, whatever he felt like the situation dictated and he executed well. He’s a senior in a big spot and it was awesome to see him do that.”
In the bottom of the 6th inning with two outs, Brett Heese stepped to the plate and started a rally for the Cyclones hitting an RBI single to make it 10-2, followed by Kaufman knocking in two runs to win the game for the Cyclones via the mercy rule, sending his teammates out of the dugout to jump on his back.
“It feels really good to get this win,” Sorfonden said. “Our team has really grinded this year. We’ve kind of gone through ups and down and it’s good to come out with a win against a team like this that’s given us trouble during the regular season.”
With this win, the Cyclones advance to the 3A-8 Second Round Tournament game against the 20-9 Storm Lake Tornadoes. The Tornadoes are led by Jake Eddie with 38 hits, batting .413 and Carter Lullmann with 30 runs batted in. On the mound, Charlie Dvergsten has six wins, while Eddie leads the team in earned run average with 1.80 and 87 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings pitched.
“We’re just going to take it as it goes and hopefully hit the crap out of the ball and whoever is the starting pitcher throws strikes and whoever else goes in, throws strikes,” Leinen said.