It has been a long time since Sioux City East last played for a state championship. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1997, when Head Coach Jared Ocker was a pitcher for the Black Raiders. And he and the team hoping the third trip to the championship game, is the charm.
"My only three trips to state, we've been down to the state title game, two as a player and now one as a coach," Ocker said. "Now we need to come home and get the right outcome."
"It's unbelievable," senior Trey Lapke added. "We're here. It still hasn't soaked in yet. We're in the state championship and it's just unbelievable. Words can't describe how I feel right now."
Now late in the game Friday night, East had a 4-0 lead in the 6th inning and with Clinton threatening, Dom Thompson-Williams comes up with the play of the game. Trey Lapke on in relief with two outs and the bases loaded, Ryan Driscoll singles to center, one run is in, Dustin Caldwell gets waved in but DTW cuts him down at the plate to the end the rally and the inning. It was a huge momentum shift for the Black Raiders.
"You see me, I held the ball for a quick second and then realized they were going home so I threw it home," Thompson-Williams said. "Normally they're not going and the ball fell in the right position and tagged him out."
"I was kind of shocked them sent him knocking Dom's arm strength and Dom's reputation" Ocker added. "Dom just does what he normally does and puts a strong throw there, gave us an opportunity to cut the ball if we needed to, but it one hopped the catcher. It was a bang-bang play, but we got him."
Now when it comes to the postseason teams talk about peaking at the right time and Sioux City East has done just that. On their current nine game winning streak, the Black Raiders and strung together their best hitting and pitching performances, outscoring opponents 61-14.
"We've been playing great defense. Our pitching has been great. We've been hitting the ball well and we're just glad to be in the state title game," Hayden Godfrey said.
"We're playing the best ball of our life, of our career," Thompson-Williams added. This is what we've been waiting for and it's clicking baby, it's clicking."
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