Albion Cornerstone Legion Baseball has been down this path before. Successfully.
In a taut contest befitting the top two seeds, Cornerstone made some mistakes uncharacteristic of the Albion team this summer and failed to thoroughly capitalize on Aurora’s miscues during a 4-2 loss Monday night in the 2012 American Legion Juniors Area B-5 Tournament at the Albion Sports Complex Legion Field.
That means Albion Cornerstone will have to take the route it followed a year ago in qualifying for the 2011 Juniors Class B state tournament – winning the district title through the losers bracket.
Last year’s success certainly proves the task is attainable.
Albion, which blanked Wayne 8-0 in its Area B-5 opener Saturday, thumped Wayne again Tuesday night in the loser’s bracket final, 10-3, advancing to Wednesday’s championship. Cornerstone will need to defeat tourney unbeaten Aurora twice to wear the B-5 crown.
Monday’s winner’s bracket final was a case of each team receiving opportunities – some presented by the opponent’s mistakes – with Aurora taking just enough advantage to squeeze out a key 4-2 victory.
A tense pitcher’s duel turned with Aurora scoring three runs in the third and fourth innings and Albion Cornerstone coming up one hit or Aurora miscue short of matching the visitors in the fifth.
Aurora plated its second run in the bottom of the inning when Caleb Oswald singled, took second on a sac bunt and raced all the way home when Albion’s throw to first base was wild.
Bricker again frustrated Cornerstone by stranding two base runners in the fourth and Aurora took advantage of three Cornerstone errors in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-0 lead.
There was no quit in a resilient Cornerstone team that bounced right back in the following inning.
Koch reached with a one-out walk and Hedlund followed with a booming double to deep right-center. Following another strikeout, Bricker plunked Gentrup with a 3-0 pitch to load the bases and Wyatt Mazour followed with an infield single the Aurora shortstop fielded deep in the hole, plating Koch and ending Bricker’s night.
Aurora starting catcher Jordan Heinrichs took the mound and his wild pitch allowed Hedlund to score before he got out of the jam by fanning Alex Pelster. Heinrichs, after escaping the mess in the fifth, locked in and set down Cornerstone’s final six batters of the contest, four by strikeout, to preserve the Aurora victory.
Albion Cornerstone began its B-5 tournament effort with an impressive 8-0 victory over Wayne Saturday night.
Koch and his defense had the upper hand in another low-scoring battle until Wayne cracked the door and Albion broke the contest open in the sixth.
The Cornerstone defense sparkled through the early innings and made a big play right at the outset.
Wayne’s Grant Anderson led off the bottom of the first inning with a single, advanced to second on a sac bunt and attempted to race home on Jake Lutt’s base hit. Albion leftfielder Pelster fired a strike home, however, and Hedlund applied the tag well in front of the plate.
Hedlund also threw out a runner attempting to steal to close the second and, following a lead-off walk in the fourth, shortstop Koziol fielded a grounder up the middle, stepped on second and fired to first to complete an unassisted double play.
Cornerstone had single base runners in each of the first three innings, but wasn’t able to break through until the fourth when Kennedy singled, stole second and scored on an error by Wayne third baseman Kaje Maly.
The game turned for good in the top of the sixth. Hedlund and Kennedy reached with one out on consecutive Wayne errors in left and center fields. Gentrup followed with a single to make it 2-0 and Mazour loaded the bases with a walk. Pelster singled in one runner, another came home on Justin Rasmussen’s ground out and one more tallied on a Wayne throwing error. Glidden and Koziol drew two-out walks and Koch capped the inning with a two-run single.
Further Tournament Details in Print & Online Editions of Albion News