Gaige Rankin

Albia third baseman Gaige Rankin leaps for a throw as a Centerville runner slides under him, but the inning was already over with a Tein Thiravong strikeout.

The Albia Blue Demon baseball team used a stellar pitching performance by Tein Thiravong and relief from Barrett Bonnet to score an SCC victory over eighth ranked Centerville on Thursday night at home. “Tein and Barrett put us in such a great spot to win tonight,” said Coach Robbie D’Amoto, “They have been doing that all year so it was very special to be able to get a big win over a very strong opponent.”

Two Blue Demon errors led to three runs in the top of the first inning for the Big Red. Albia countered with three runs as Jaden Hugen singled, Ashtin Brand walked, and Eli Smith doubled scoring two. Brand later scored on a single by Hunter DeMoss to tie the game at 3-3.

A walk and a stolen base gave Centerville a chance to score in the second but Thiravong recorded a strikeout to end the threat. In the third Centerville went down in order and Albia grabbed the lead with two runs. Hugen singled and Brand was hit by a pitch. Smith’s ground ball to the right side advanced the runners and Jackson Pence drove Hugen across the plate with a single. Brand scored on a sacrifice fly by DeMoss.

McCain Oden came on to pitch for the Big Red and proceeded to put Albia down in order for the next four innings but the Blue Demons held on to the 5-3 lead until the fifth inning. Centerville scored one run and in the seventh they scored to tie the game on a single and a double, sending the teams to extra innings.

Thiravong had to give up the ball in the seventh due to pitch count but Bonnett came on and threw well in relief.

Albia shut down Centerville in the eighth and threatened to end the game as Hugen singled and reached second on a ground ball by Brand. An intentional walk to Pence set things up but to no avail.

In the ninth Centerville managed to get runners on first and third but a ground out ended the threat. “Our fielding this season particularly in the infield hasn’t been as solid as we had hoped but tonight we bounced back from a couple of tough errors to really lock it down on defense to support our pitchers,” said Coach D’Amato.

Jameson Robertson doubled to lead off the ninth for Albia and a sacrifice bunt by Bonnett moved him to third. A suicide squeeze bunt by Logan DeBrouse ended the game much to the joy of the Blue Demons.

Bonnett ended up the winning pitcher going 2 1/3 innings allowing no runs on two hits striking out one and walking none. Thiravong went 6 2/3 innings, allowing five runs, one earned, striking out six and walking none, while hitting one batter.

“We have had the bats going pretty much all season,” said the coach. “Tonight we faced some tougher pitchers than what we’ve seen and I am so proud of our boys for having solid bats and putting good contact on the ball consistently.

“The timeliness of a lead off double in extra innings from a senior and a perfectly executed sacrifice bunt by another senior, wrapped up by an excellent suicide squeeze play by an upper classman who has worked hard to get a spot in the lineup is just a perfect way to end a hard fought battle for this team. Our coaches could not be happier with tonight.”

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