Albion Cornerstone Juniors reach Area 5 championship game, near state tourney berth

Albion Cornerstone is in prime position to win an American Legion Juniors Area 5 championship and Nebraska American Legion Class B state tournament berth after defeating Columbus Lakeview 12-9 Monday night at Leon Nelson Memorial Field (Albion Sports Complex).
Albion took a final lead with four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, then staved off Lakeview’s attempted rally in the seventh to advance to Tuesday’s championship round with a 3-0 tournament record.
Top-seeded Albion Cornerstone faced #2 seed Pierce, a team the local Juniors defeated 9-3 Sunday, in that final with two chances to win the championship in the double-elimination format, if needed.
Monday’s victory was not a piece of diamond art, as both teams were a bit sloppy on Day 4 of the tournament. Lakeview committed seven errors in the contest, Cornerstone six, but it was the the Albion Juniors who came up with more hits, more big plays and, most importantly, more runs.
Three straight doubles (Sam Grape, Calvin Webster, Ben Reilly) and a pair of Lakeview errors led to three runs and a 3-2 Albion lead in the second inning. Lakeview went up 4-3 with two in the top of the third and Albion Cornerstone answered with four in the bottom of the frame, as Carsten Bird, Webster and Reilly rapped singles and Trent Patzel blasted an RBI double to the centerfield fence.
In a seesaw battle, Lakeview knotted the score 8-8 in the top of the sixth and Albion responded with its final offensive outburst in the bottom of the frame.
James Fogleman drew a one-out walk, Caden Stokes was hit-by-a-pitch and Bird walked to load the bases. Fogleman scored on a passed ball, Grape doubled in Stokes and Bird, then crossed the plate on Lakeview’s seventh miscue of the game. Lakeview scored once in the seventh before Stokes slammed the door with a strikeout.

Following an opening round bye, Albion Cornerstone began play in the Area 5 tournament with a workmanlike 8-2 victory over Wayne Saturday. The contest started after 10 p.m. and ended after midnight due to a lengthy rain delay earlier in the day.  With sunshine and the tournament back on schedule, Albion Cornerstone answered the bell Sunday with a 9-3 victory over #2 seed Pierce.

Full tournament game coverage and details in Print & Online editions of Albion News/Boone County Tribune