Albion reaches final four
Albion avenged two one-run losses from the regular season by upending host Stoughton, 4-3, in Sundayís battle for the Southeast Section championship.
Itís Albionís 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 thereís 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 Johnsonís 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 Gerberís 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 Stoughtonís only error of the game. He took second on Marty Johnsonís sacrifice bunt, advanced to third on an infield out and made it 4-2 on Adam Gregoryís RBI single.
Stoughton loaded the bases with out in the eighth on two walks and Eric Gerberís hit off Eastman, the Albion reliever. Dave Hansonís blast to the 370-foot mark in center field then had the look of a grand-slam homer, but Zach Nelsonís spectacular catch limited Stoughtonís power hitter to a sacrifice fly and a single RBI.
Eastman then struck out Sean Gerber to end the inning and preserve Albionís one-run victory.
Kyle Johnson and Vaade each finished with two of Albionís nine hits of losing pitcher Ben Riffle, who threw a complete game.
ALBION 4, STOUGHTON 3
Albion 000 300 100ó4 9 2
Stoughton 000 020 010ó3 7 1
Nanstad, Jo. Eastman (7) and M. Johnson; Riffle and S. Gerber.
Leading hittersóK. Johnson (A) 2x4, Vaade (A) 2x4, E. Gerber (S) 2x5. 2BóK. Johnson (A), S. Gerber (S), Moore (S), Menzer (S).
SOóNanstad (A) 9, Jo. Eastman (A) 3, Riffle (S) 6. BBóNanstad 4, Jo. Eastman 2, Riffle 2.