ALBIA – Call it a premonition, perhaps? A simple gut instinct?
Maybe it was just as simple as making sure his team had covered every facet of the game.
Whatever the reason was behind it, it led Albia head baseball coach Boyd Brittan to approach assistant coach Jim Keegel on something specific to work on with his team before they began the postseason.
“I told Coach Keegel last Thursday afternoon I wanted practice run downs at every base,” Brittan said. “It’d been awhile since we’d done that and I wanted to freshen them up a little.”
The skill they were refreshed in before the postseason began helped keep them moving along the tournament trail as the Albia Blue Demons advanced to the Class 2A, District 12 finals in one of the most thrilling ways possible. Catcher Gabe Gravert tagged out potential tying run Alex Breckenridge, who was one of two PCM runners caught in a last-inning rundown with the seasons of both teams hanging in the balance.
In the end, Breckenridge tried to break for home to force extra innings. Instead, Albia shortstop Ethan Gray fired a bullet to the plate to Gravert who was ready to make the catch put the tag on the Mustang senior, capping a heart-stopping 2-1 regional semifinal victory that left the home in an absolute frenzy at the Albia Summer Sports Complex.
To say there were a range of emotions going on in and around the Albia baseball squad immediately after their 22nd win of the season is putting it mildly.
“That had me scared when that pickle was going on,” Gravert said. “I was scared at home plate, but we got it done.”
“He was getting kinda close to home plate there, wasn’t he?” Brittan joked after hearing Gravert describe that final play with Breckenridge.