Cyclones win 3A-8 Championship
Junior Cyclone Quinn Koesters slammed the door on Hawkeye 10 rival Lewis Central Wednesday night recording the final four outs in the Cyclones 9-6 3A-8 Championship game victory.
“This team has worked hard all year,” Koesters said. “We’ve had struggles, but right now we’re on top and we can do anything.”
Stephen Leinen took the mound to start the night for the Cyclones pitching 5 2/3 strong innings, giving up five runs on five hits and walking four. Head coach Heath Stein removed Leinen and replaced him with Koesters who got the Cyclones back in the dugout on three pitches and returned to the mound in the 7th inning to finish the game.
“I was struggling a little bit there and I’m glad Quinn came in,” Leinen said. “He really shoved it in the strike zone and he throwing good strikes, making them miss and making them hit as well.”
The first two innings were scoreless, but the Cyclones struck first when Landen Kaufman opened the top of the 3rd inning with a leadoff double and later scored on a fielders choice, putting the Cyclones up 1-0.
The Titans tied the game in the bottom of the 4th when Ty Thomson knocked in Payton Fort on an RBI groundout.
In the top of the 5th, Brett Heese drew a leadoff walk for the Cyclones. Later in the inning, Heese and Cade Sears were on base when catcher Hayden Soma knocked in both baserunners on a misplayed ball by the Titans making it 3-1 Cyclones.
The Cyclones busted the game open in the top of the 6th, scoring five runs, starting with a sacrifice fly from Heese, making it 4-1.
“I was sitting outside fastball and saw it outside, hit it and thought it was a little deeper, but the center fielder made a good play and brought in that run,” Heese said.
Kaufman struck out following that, but the catcher dropped the ball, allowing Matthew Sorfonden to score from third base, putting the Cyclones up 5-1. Sears struck out following Kaufman, but the catcher dropped the third strike again, allowing another Cyclone run to score, making it 6-1.
The Cyclones continued to add on when Leinen came to bat with the bases loaded and was hit by the pitch, bringing in the 7th run of the game. Koesters later scored for the final run of the inning as the Cyclones took an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the 6th.
The Titans then came roaring back when they scored four runs in the bottom of the 6th , ultimately chasing Leinen from the game and putting themselves back within striking distance at 8-5.
In the top of the 7th inning, the Cyclones got a key insurance run when Cael Goshorn opened the inning with a walk and scored on an overthrow by the catcher on an attempted steal of third base and with heads up baserunning, he came in to score the Cyclones 9th run of the night.
The Titans added one more run in the bottom of the 7th, but the Cyclones were victorious, rushing the field and celebrating the victory, punching their ticket to the 3A-8 State Tournament.
“To have the grind that is the high school baseball season in Iowa and to go through your ups and downs and to learn from them, move on from them, it just shows the absolute toughness this group has and togetherness,” Stein said. “For them to achieve this, it’s much deserving and I couldn’t be prouder.”
For the Cyclones, this was their 22nd win, including 19 during the regular season after starting 0-5 and losing key players from last season.
“I think a lot of people doubted us at first, but I knew from the get go that once we started to get things to click, that we’re going to be something that is hard to beat,” Sorfonden said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever played on a team as close as we are and our team chemistry is just amazing, so I feel like this year we’re going to do great things.”
The Cyclones will head to Iowa City Monday for the 3A State Quarterfinal game to take on the 33-9 Western Dubuque Bobcats at 5 p.m. at Duane Banks Baseball Stadium. The Bobcats are led by Brett Harris with 59 hits, batting .424. Hunter Quagliano leads in runs batted in with 39. On the mound, Ryan Klostermann leads in wins with seven, while Isaac Then has 67 strikeouts.