Albion reaches final four

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Gazette staff
August 22, 2011
— The Albion Tigers are headed to Home Talent League baseball’s final four.

Albion avenged two one-run losses from the regular season by upending host Stoughton, 4-3, in Sunday’s battle for the Southeast Section championship.

It’s Albion’s first sectional title since 1976 and advances the Tigers to a round-robin series against the three other sectional champions. Albion plays at West Section champion Dodgeville next Sunday, hosts North champion Cross Plains on Sunday, Sept. 4, and plays at East champion DeForest on Sunday, Sept. 11.

If there’s a tie for first place after the three weeks of round-robin competition, additional playoff games will decide the championship. Albion is looking for its first overall title in the history of the 44-team league, which was founded in 1929.

Albion finished second to Stoughton (15-1) this season in the West Division of the Southeast Section with 12-4 record. The Tigers lost 5-4 and 6-5 in 11 innings to Stoughton during the regular season, but they never trailed in their third shot at the Merchants.

Josh Eastman and Jesse Appel singled to ignite a three-run fourth inning that put Albion ahead for good. Eastman scored on Kyle Johnson’s double off the left-field fence, and Ethan Vaade followed with an RBI single. Vaade scored on a balk to make it 3-0.

Sean Gerber’s two-run double off the right-field fence with the bases loaded and one out pulled Stoughton within 3-2 in the fifth. With the potential tying and lead runs in scoring position, winning pitcher Mike Nanstad notched two straight strikeouts to end the threat.

Casey Schmeling began the Albion seventh by reaching base on Stoughton’s only error of the game. He took second on Marty Johnson’s sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on an infield out and made it 4-2 on Adam Gregory’s RBI single.

Stoughton loaded the bases with out in the eighth on two walks and Eric Gerber’s hit off Eastman, the Albion reliever. Dave Hanson’s blast to the 370-foot mark in center field then had the look of a grand-slam homer, but Zach Nelson’s spectacular catch limited Stoughton’s power hitter to a sacrifice fly and a single RBI.

Eastman then struck out Sean Gerber to end the inning and preserve Albion’s one-run victory.

Kyle Johnson and Vaade each finished with two of Albion’s nine hits of losing pitcher Ben Riffle, who threw a complete game.


Albion 000 300 100—4 9 2

Stoughton 000 020 010—3 7 1

Nanstad, Jo. Eastman (7) and M. Johnson; Riffle and S. Gerber.

Leading hitters—K. Johnson (A) 2x4, Vaade (A) 2x4, E. Gerber (S) 2x5. 2B—K. Johnson (A), S. Gerber (S), Moore (S), Menzer (S).

SO—Nanstad (A) 9, Jo. Eastman (A) 3, Riffle (S) 6. BB—Nanstad 4, Jo. Eastman 2, Riffle 2.

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