ALBIA – It was a simple single down the first-base line. Yet it likely sent cheers across two counties on Thursday.
Albia junior Drew Schofield sent a pitch from Christian Bambrook just out of the reach of Rocket first baseman Levi Johnston and just inside the line for a game-winning single in the bottom of the seventh inning of the Blue Demons opening game with EBF at the Albia Summer Sports Complex. The hit brought home Austin Luse with his second run of the opening game in the critical South Central Conference doubleheader, giving the Blue Demons a 3-2 victory over the first-place team in the conference.
At least that’s where EBF started the day — atop the SCC by a game over Chariton with a 12-2 record. The loss in the opening game to Albia came while the Chargers were in the middle of sweeping Centerville in a battle of conference title hopefuls.
Having started two hours earlier, No. 8 (3A) Chariton had already put up an 18-4 victory over the Big Reds before game one in Albia had even started. Schofield’s game-winning hit officially lifted the eighth-ranked Chargers (24-2, 12-2) into first place in the SCC over EBF, which the Chargers cemented by holding off a late Centerville (15-11, 9-5) rally to win the nightcap over the Big Reds 7-6.
EBF (19-9, 12-4) hoped to stay within one game in the loss column of the Chargers and move within percentage points of Chariton atop the SCC with a split against the Blue Demons. After leading game two 1-0 through three innings, however, Albia (16-13, 10-8) scored four times in the fourth inning off Rocket game two starter Trevor Swartz to grab a 4-1 lead over EBF Thursday night as the Courier went to press.
Bryce Leshen, who had the go-ahead two-RBI hit in the fourth inning of game two, put Albia ahead for the first time in game one after EBF led 1-0 on a third inning RBI groundout by Christian Bambrook. Leshen drove home older brother Brett and Austin Luse with a two-out, two-run single off Bambrook to put Albia up 2-1.