By Phil Anastasia
Brendan Gumm has become an expert at leading the cheers for the Cherokee baseball team.
He's not bad at creating them, either.
Gumm cracked a two-run home run and finished with four RBIs as Cherokee continued its torrid play with an 8-3 victory over Shawnee Wednesday in an Olympic Conference American Division game.
Winning pitcher Frank Rosetti, a senior right-hander, worked 5 1/3 innings and senior first baseman Jake Powell was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI for Cherokee (12-7, 8-1).
The Chiefs, who have won eight in a row, clinched a share of the division title. They can win the crown outright with a victory over Washington Township on Monday.
"We have a bunch of seniors on this team and we want to go all out," Gumm said.
Senior second baseman Nick Corbi doubled and scored for Shawnee (4-11).
"We played three freshmen and six sophomores in this game," Shawnee coach Brian Anderson said. "It's been a rebuilding year and our seniors have helped us through that process.
"Our young guys are making strides but it's tough when you play a team like Cherokee with eight seniors out there and a lot of names that you recognize from the last couple of years."
Cherokee has been one of South Jersey's hottest teams since falling to 4-7 in a 7-0 loss to Northern Burlington on April 21. The Chiefs were no-hit in that game.
"We decided at 4-7, 'We're too good for this,'" Cherokee coach Marc Petragnani said.
Rosetti shut out Shawnee through five innings. He struck out seven with three walks.
"I didn't have my best stuff but I was able to battle through," Rosetti said.
Powell delivered an RBI double and Gumm added an RBI single in the first as Cherokee took a 2-0 lead.
The Chiefs stretched their advantage with three runs in the fifth as Gumm took an inside fastball over the left-field fence for a two-run homer and sophomore Evan Powell, Jake's brother, ripped an RBI single.
Gumm added his fourth RBI with a bases-loaded walk in a three-run seventh.
An outfielder through his first three years in the program, Gumm has been forced to serve strictly as a designated hitter this season because a shoulder injury limits his ability to throw. He said he's used the time on the bench to focus on hitting -- and also to cheer on his teammates.
"I've tried to be more of a vocal leader for us," Gumm said. "I'll try to keep the guys up. When we take infield/outfielder (before the game), I'll try to get everybody fired up."
Petragnani said Gumm has flourished in his new role.
"He's been unbelievable," Petragnani said of Gumm. "I think he loves being the DH. He loves to hit."
Shawnee 000 003 0 -- 3 6 2
Cherokee 200 033 x -- 8 11 1
WP: Frank Rosetti. LP: Frank Hutchko.
2B: S-Nick Corbi; C-Jake Powell, Evan Powell, Nick Follet.
HR: C-Brendan Gumm.
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