Braves strand 12, fall 4-2.
The Cherokee Braves (30-2) had plenty of opportunities to bring home runs Saturday afternoon, but the defending champions stranded a dozen baserunners as they fell to Davenport Assumption 4-2 in the Class 2A championship game at Principal Park.
Cherokee, the Lakes Conference champions and the top rated team in the state, defeated second ranked Assumption 5-4 last year, but a repeat wasn't in the cards for the Braves as they couldn't deliver a timely hit or run when they needed one.
"It was so frustrating because we've always been fortunate to be able to score big runs at important times in games,'' said Cherokee catcher and lead-off hitter Tyler Jones. "Assumption is very good, but getting runners on and not getting them home killed us.''
Cherokee definitely didn't lack for runners as they collected ten hits on the afternoon and got out to a fast start.
The Braves took an early lead as Jones, a junior, lined a blooper to the gap in right field. After an out advanced him, he was brought home on a single by Mark Johnson.
Davenport Assumption immediately battled back in the second inning to claim a 2-1 lead. Junior designated hitter J. Golden singled to knock in Jared McIntosh to tie it up. Golden then crossed the plate himself, thanks to a base hit by shortstop Mike Furlong.
Davenport Assumption (35-8), out of the Mississippi League, brought in their final run in the fifth as Jake Kent knocked in Jake McAlilster.
Kent notched his seventh victory of the summer as he got the win for Davenport Assumption. He pitched all seven innings for the Knights and struck out six while walking just one.
Matt Koch took the loss for the Braves, his first of the year, as he scattered nine hits over six innings and struck out three.
In the sixth inning, Jones knocked home the final run of the game to bring in senior outfielder Scott Brown. It was a solid effort for Brown as he collected three hits on the day to close out his career at Cherokee.
The Braves had plenty of chances to swing the game in their favor as they loaded the bases twice in the fourth inning, once in the fifth, and once again in the sixth. The runners were there but Cherokee went 5-20 with runners in scoring position.
In the end, they couldn't push across the crucial runs to repeat as champions.
"We just didn't come up with that hit we needed with men on,'' said Cherokee head coach Scott Koch. "But, that's baseball. It was frustrating. We were playing a great team, but this Cherokee team was pretty special. Our seniors were terrific for such a long time.''
Davenport Assumption's victory snapped The Braves' 24 game win streak and gives the Knights' their eighth baseball championship in ten appearances.