Funny game, this baseball.
Funny team, these Cherokee Chiefs.
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- Wednesday’s Southeastern Pa. roundup: La Salle baseball tops Father Judge in 13 innings in Catholic League semis
- Wednesday’s South Jersey roundup: Lenape boys’ lacrosse edges Cherokee to advance to the South Group 4 finals
Cherokee qualified for the state tournament by winning a hastily-scheduled game against King’s Christian on the last day before the playoff cutoff.
The Chiefs entered the postseason with a 6-12 record, as the No. 15 seed in South Jersey Group 4.
They scored five runs in the seventh and eighth innings to knock off second-seeded Jackson Memorial, the reigning champion, in Monday’s opener.
But on Thursday, they took this storybook stuff to another level.
Rapping 15 hits, including four for extra bases, Cherokee scored an imposing 14-2 victory over Clearview in the sectional quarterfinals on a stormy day on the Pioneers’ home field.
“We’re hitting .242 as a team coming in and we get 15 hits -- go figure,” Cherokee coach Marc Petragnani said.
Junior second baseman Jake Prince was 4-for-4 with a walk, a double, a triple, four runs and five RBIs for Clearview (9-12), which advanced to meet third-seeded Eastern in Tuesday’s semifinals.
Eastern advanced with a 5-2 win over Williamstown.
“We’re getting hot at the right time,” Prince said. “We knew we had it in us. We knew we were capable of it and we’re finally showing everybody.”
Senior catcher Tim Haverstick was 3-for4 with three RBIs and junior centerfielder Zach Bernard was 3-for-5 with a two-run double in a game that was shortened to six innings by the 10-run rule.
“When you’re playing with confidence, when you belief in yourself, then things that others might deem improbable absolutely can happen," Petragnani said.
Cherokee got strong work on the mound from junior Andy Walters, who went 5 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on five hits.
Walters relied heavily on his changeup and breaking ball to stymie the 10th-seeded Pioneers (14-7), who had averaged 6.25 runs in an eight-game winning streak.
“I pitched backwards,” Walters said. “I was starting guys off my curveball, my change-up. That was making my fastball more effective because I don’t throw that hard.”
The game was delayed for more than an hour by lightning in the top of the fifth inning. But nothing slowed down the Chiefs.
They scored four runs when the game resumed to take a 10-0 lead. When Clearview’s Brandon Dougherty kept things alive with a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth, the Chiefs answered with four more in the top of the sixth inning.
“It’s contagious right now,” Walters said. “We’re just playing with so much energy.”
Cherokee 213 044 – 14 15 0
Clearview 000 020 – 2 5 3
WP: Andy Walters. LP: Julian Costa.
2B: Ch-Jake Prince, Tim Haverstick, Zach Bernard.
3B: Ch-Jake Prince.