The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


The School Newspaper of Cherry Hill High School East


Cherry Hill East Cougars fall to Cherokee Chiefs in the first round of South Jersey Group 4 baseball playoffs

Mike Naddeo
Michael Schulke (’24) pitching to a Cherokee hitter

On Thursday, May 23, the 13th-seeded Cherry Hill East Cougars (11-15) lost to the 4th-seed Cherokee Chiefs (16-8) in the first round of the NJSIAA Playoffs with a final score of 5-1. East played strong for the first four innings, out-hitting Cherokee with eight hits to the Chief’s total of four. Zach Salsbery (‘25) led the way going 3/4 at the plate. Unfortunately, some fielding errors cost the Cougars the game and brought an end to their season.

The game started off scoreless for the first two innings with Mike Schulke (‘24) pitching for the Cougars who held off the Chief’s batters. Keeping the game close and suspenseful, Schulke did not let up a hit until the fourth inning. For the Chiefs, Henry Radbill (‘25) pitched the first four innings while Brody Minder (‘24) finished out the final three innings. Combined between the two pitchers, they threw seven strikes and allowed eight hits to win the game. East’s pitchers, Schulke and Michael Fekete (‘27) gave up only four hits, while striking out three.

East’s Varsity Baseball coach, Coach Jason Speller said, “We have trust in Mike, and he has been our guy since his sophomore year, so we had all the faith in the world for him.”

Throughout the early innings of the game, the atmosphere was filled with excitement and anticipation. Fans from East and Cherokee came along to watch the game and brought energy and spirit, fueling the pace of the game.

Story continues below advertisement

When the top of the third inning came along, the Cougars broke the streak of scoreless innings when Dillon Haddock (‘24) singled on a ground ball to the shortstop. Right after, Josh Perr (‘24) bunted and reached first on an error by the catcher, while Haddock advanced to third base. Next, Salsbery singled on a fly ball to center field, bringing Haddock home. Haddock’s excitement was contagious as the Cougars took a 1-0 lead over the Cherokee Chiefs.

Despite the early lead in the game, the Cougars could not capitalize on their strong offensive play. With the Cougar’s eight hits, they had a lot of chances to continue their lead, but the Chiefs played tough with solid pitching and a strong defense. At the bottom of the fourth, four batters got on base by being hit by a pitch. This, combined with two errors in the field, propelled the Cherokee Chiefs to a 4-1 lead. After loading the bases, senior Schulke walks off the high school pitcher’s mound for the last time.

“He shut them down for three and a half innings…sometimes baseball just happens, and it kind of got away from him, but we trust him through and through,” said Coach Speller

When the top of the fifth inning came along, Salsbery hit a double to right field. After the second out, Brett McLaughlin (‘24) singles on a ground ball to the shortstop, allowing pinch (substitute) runner Ryan Naddeo (‘24) to advance to third base. Naddeo was then picked off third base.

The outcome of the top of the fifth inning was a setback for the Cougars.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Chiefs scored again with a ground rule double by Jason Brown (‘25), bringing Alex Odud (‘27) home, increasing the Chief’s lead to 5-1. After a tough start to the inning, Fekete closed out the fifth inning by striking out Chief batter Brown.

The next two innings fly by and the game ends with the Chiefs achieving a comeback win against the Cougars in the first round of playoffs. The Cougars battled hard and stayed in the game against a tough opponent. Although their season is over, they have a bright future ahead.

At the end of the season, Schulke and Salsbery were elected as First Team All Conference, while freshmen Fekete and Haddock earned the honor of Second Team all Conference.

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

All Eastside Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *