Derailed – but not done.
The Albion Cornerstone Seniors entered the 2016 American Legion Class C State Tournament riding a wave of momentum generated by last week’s stirring C5 Area championship.
Albion opened state play at Ainsworth with a pair of victories, running its win streak to seven games, but had its express run toward a potential state title hit a bump in the tracks Monday night with an 8-5 loss to Malcolm.
Even with that setback, championship hopes were still alive, with Albion Cornerstone one of four teams left standing in the Class C field entering Tuesday play. Albion faced Creighton in an elimination game Tuesday afternoon, with Malcolm facing West Point in a later contest. The winners of those games advanced to Wednesday’s championship round (if West Point defeated Malcolm, three teams would advance to the final round, since it would have been Malcolm’s first loss in the tournament. Updated tournament results can be found at www.albionnewsonline.com)
Albion 11, West Point 1
When you’re hot, you’re hot.
That might have best summed up Albion Cornerstone’s start at the 2016 state tournament.
Albion, riding a five-game win streak that produced its Area championship, blasted West Point 11-1 (5 innings) in its state opener at Ainsworth Saturday.
Cornerstone got off to a strong start in the contest and methodically pounded West Point pitching throughout. The Albion nine finished with 10 hits, including an early double by Scott Ketteler and Keaton Henry’s climactic three-run home run.
Albion 3, Creighton 2
Albion Cornerstone, as it had in the Area tournament, proved Sunday it could win any type of contest. After bludgeoning West Point, Albion rode a stellar pitching performance by Kyle Kramer and used a dramatic seventh-inning rally to nip Creighton 3-2 and advance to the winner’s bracket final.
Creighton pitcher Garrett Zimmerer was in control through five innings, then escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth after allowing two base hits and a walk to preserve a 2-1 lead. He wouldn’t be as fortunate one inning later.
Ty Martinsen led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and advanced on a wild pitch. Valasek reached base on an error and Ketteler followed with an RBI single to knot the score.
Creighton reliever Ryan Neumann fanned Henry for the second out before Kramer came through in the clutch, making himself and his team winners with a walkoff single.
Kramer allowed just four hits in the complete-game performance, walking two and striking out six.
Malcolm 8, Albion 5
Malcolm turned the tables on Albion Cornerstone Monday, delivering its own late rally for an 8-5 victory in a battle between the final two unbeaten teams in the state tourney field.
It was a seesaw contest befitting the stage.
Cornerstone forged a 3-3 tie in the bottom of the fourth, as Derek Stuhr singled and scored, followed by Joel Meyer’s walk and Martinsen’s RBI base hit. Valasek led off Albion’s half of the fifth with a single and Ketteler was hit by a pitch. Cornerstone then took its first lead, 5-3, when Kramer doubled home one run and Ketteler tallied on Gentrup’s sac fly.
Valasek worked out of trouble in the sixth, but couldn’t stem the Malcolm tide in the seventh. Malcolm opened the final inning with three straight base hits, then parlayed a fielder’s choice, another single and an Albion error into five runs and the 8-5 lead.
Kramer rapped a two-out single in the bottom of the inning, but Malcolm recorded the final out with a strikeout to advance as the tournament’s final unbeaten team.
Further details in Print & Online editions of Albion News