Cyclones win close battle with Knights
In the bottom of the 6th inning with a runner on base, Cyclone Junior Cade Sears launched a home run over the right field fence putting his team up 7-0, which at the time seemed like icing on the cake of an easy victory, but after a furious rally by the Kuemper Catholic Knights in the top of the 7th, the Cyclones hung on for a 7-6 win.
For the Cyclones, this was their second win in a row and third in their previous four games.
“Cade has really been hot lately,” said Cyclones Head Coach Heath Stein. “We’ve made a couple of adjustments with him and it’s paid off big time, so it’s fun to see him fly around the bases like a cheetah.”
Stephen Leinen took the mound to start the night for the Cyclones. He pitched 6.1 innings, struck out four batters and gave up three runs on seven hits before being removed for Quinn Koesters who closed out the ballgame.
“He was throwing multiple pitches for strikes,” Stein said. “He was working ahead all night and creating a lot of soft contact early on and our defense was solid behind him as we made some good plays to get out of a couple of jams.”
The Cyclones got their first run of the game in the bottom of the 2nd inning when Brett Heese stepped to the plate, drove a ball to left field that was caught, but Matthew Sorfonden tagged up and scored easily giving the Cyclones a 1-0 lead.
The Knights came to bat in the top of the third inning when Evan Loew hit a ball into the right center field gap and Cyclone Sophomore Jozef Reisz fielded the ball to Koesters who threw to Landen Kaufman who tagged Loew for the out trying to stretch a double into a triple.
“That relay play from right field to Quinn to get the out at third to start that inning was huge just to stop their little rally,” Stein added.
Reisz came up to bat in the bottom of the 3rd inning and drove a ball into the gap, plating two runs, widening the Cyclones lead to 4-0.
“He [Reisz] has been hot lately,” Stein said. “He gets up there and he’s a swinger. He’s got an aggressive approach and if he gets a good pitch to hit, he’s going to put a good swing on it.”
Koesters took the mound in the top of the 7th with one out after Leinen gave up a run. Koesters got into some trouble, but managed to finish the game when a fly ball was hit to Cael Goshorn in left field that was caught and secured the victory.
For the Cyclones this was their 10th win on the season. They move to 10-10 on the year.
“We did pretty well,” said Sophomore Landen Kaufman. “Stephen did a great job pitching tonight and we did pretty good at hitting all around.”
The Cyclones won’t have much time to rest with the 15-10 Solon Spartans coming to town Friday night. Offensively, the Spartans are led by Brett White with 35 hits with a .493 batting average and Nolan Seagren with 31 runs batted in. On the mound, Brick Kabela has four wins and Vince Steinbrech leads the team in strikeouts with 25.
“We need to make sure we’re on time with our hitting,” Kaufman said. “Pitching needs to be good. I’m pretty sure [Braydon] Ernst will come out and do just fine.”
Leinen delivers extra inning walk-off against Spartans
In the bottom of the 9th inning with one out and runners on the corners, Senior Cyclone Stephen Leinen stepped to the plate with a chance to win the game for his team and did so by connecting on a pitch that went over the head of Junior Spartan Tyson Wheeler in left field.
The Cyclones rushed the field to jump on the back of Leinen, celebrating their third win in a row and fourth in their previous five games.
“I was super stoked to get up there,” Leinen said. “I really wanted it and my approach when I got up there was fastball and hit it in the air, so that way Cade [Sears] could tag up and get a run.”
Braydon Ernst opened the game for the Cyclones on the mound and got into early trouble when he allowed two runs in the top of the 1st inning. He later allowed back-to-back home runs off the bats of Brett White and Gehrig Turner.
Recovering nicely, Ernst pitched four consecutive scoreless innings from the second to the fifth and struck out one batter.
“He [Ernst] threw very well,” said Cyclones Head Coach Heath Stein. “We need to work with him on getting more ready in the first inning because he’s had some issues. If you look at his starts, a lot of times he gives up runs and isn’t necessarily locked in in the first inning, but then he settles in nicely.”
The Cyclones got their first run of the game in the bottom of the 3rd, when Hayden Soma connected at the plate for an RBI single cutting the Spartans lead in half at 2-1. Leinen stepped up later in that inning and hit a sacrifice fly scoring Sears to tie the game at two.
In the bottom of the 5th inning, the Cyclones got their first lead when Sears was on third base and Soma grounded to third base, Sears took off aggressively for home and scored giving the Cyclones their first lead of the game at 3-2.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, the Cyclones trailed by one run after Ernst surrendered back-to-back home runs in the top half of the inning. Brett Heese hit a leadoff double and then the Cyclones tied the game again when Jozef Reisz came in to pinch hit for Weston Reisz, connecting for a base hit and made it a 4-4 game.
In the top of the 7th with one out, Stein relieved Ernst from the game and brought in Brock Lemrick from the bullpen. Lemrick got himself into a bases loaded jam in the 7th and 8th innings, but managed to work his way out of it and keep the Spartans off the scoreboard.
“He didn’t back down from anybody,” Stein said. “We intentionally walked a couple of guys because those are the guys that we didn’t want to hurt us, and they were up in those situations, so I thought it was a good baseball move to walk them and then he executed pitches to get us out that jam.”
The Cyclones won their 11th game in a row and, for the first time this season, they move to over .500 after starting the season 0-5.
“We’ve battled back to get where we are,” Stein said. “We have one more week before seeding, so we need to rattle off another good week next week and position ourselves as best we can for postseason.”
The Cyclones will return to Jim Goeser Field Monday night as they prepare to battle a Hawkeye Ten opponent in the 11-8 Red Oak Tigers. The Tigers are led by Dawson Bond with 27 hits, 17 runs batted in and a batting average of .500. On the mound, Bond has four wins, 44 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched with a 1.00 earned run average.
“We need energy in the dugout,” Leinen said. “Hitting the ball really well, making them make plays and hopefully forcing errors.”