ALBIA – Less than two weeks after struggling through a winless week of games, the Albia baseball team extended what they hope will be another late-season winning streak that can give the Blue Demons the momentum they need to return to the Class 2A State Baseball Tournament.
Bryce Leshen’s two-run homer did more than just erase a 2-0 lead for Chariton, it started a four-inning rally that would lead the Blue Demons to early end against the Chargers in game one of the South Central Conference doubleheader on Tuesday. Leshen would drive in the go-ahead run one inning after his fourth home run of the season tied the game at 2-2 by being hit by a Charlie Palmer pitch, starting a six-run rally in the third as Albia scored 12 straight runs on the way to a 12-2, five-inning win over the Chargers.
Lead-off hitter Austin O’Leary added three hits, including his second homer of the year to lead off the fourth as Albia opened a 9-2 lead after four innings. Hugh Sinclair came up big at the opposite of the Blue Demon order as the number nine hitter had three hits and scored two runs, including the opening-game clincher on a wild pitch by Palmer in the fifth.
The ending of the opening game was a complete 180-degree turn from how things started. Brett Braida and Adam Kaska both came home to score in the top of the first for Chariton thanks in large part to a dropped fly ball in right field by the Blue Demons.
Game two was still ongoing as the Courier went to press. Chariton (13-11, 10-5) was looking to avoid falling six games back of Centerville in the loss column in the South Central Conference. The Big Reds can clinch the outright SCC title on Thursday when the visit the Chargers for a doubleheader starting at 3:30 p.m.