By SCOTT JACKSON Courier sports writer @stjack423
---- — FAIRFIELD — Boyd Brittan couldn’t hardly speak as he sat in the dugout in Fairfield on Tuesday night.
“I’m just so happy right now,” Brittan said. “It’s hard to come up with something to say.”
“Eleven years is just too long.”
But 11 years after taking his last Albia baseball team to a state tournament, Brittan and the Blue Demons will return to a brand new place to play for a 2A championship. Albia qualified for its first trip to Principal Park in Des Moines after beating Mediapolis 4-1 in the Substate 6 championship game on Tuesday night, completing a surprising run for Monroe County squad.
Brett Leshen had a first-inning RBI double after Victor Sanders pitched out of a bases-loaded jam. Griffin Osing then made the first of his two huge plays in the contest, stealing home on the tale end of a double steal to double Albia’s lead in the second.
Osing doubled the Blue Demons’ lead again in the fifth, drilling a two-run homer to left field to all but lock up Albia’s first trip to state since qualifying for a trip to the 2A tournament in 2002, when it was held in Marshalltown. Albia (24-16) is seeded seventh and will face second-seeded North Polk (29-4), who denied the Blue Demons a state berth in their previous trip to the substate finals two years ago, Tuesday night at 6 p.m. in Des Moines.
Two area teams also made it to state in Class 1A on Tuesday night. The Van Buren Warriors qualified for their first-ever state baseball tournament as pitcher Thomas Fitzsimmons shut out Preston to give head coach Chad Scott’s team a 5-0 win in the Substate 4 final at Iowa City West. Van Buren (24-5) will join second-ranked Twin Cedars (35-2), which edged North Mahaska (24-9) 5-2 in the Substate 5 championship in Pella Christian.
The second-ranked Sabers will play as the fourth seed in the 1A state tournament and will face Martensdale-St. Mary’s (30-9) Friday night at 8 p.m. Van Buren is seeded third and will face 28-6 Don Bosco Gilbertville Saturday night at 8.
More on all three of these substate finals can be found in Thursday’s edition of the Ottumwa Courier. On Wednesday night, No. 7 Chariton (33-5) will look to qualify for the 3A state baseball tournament by winning the Substate 4 final over Fort Madison (18-23) at Legion Memorial Field in Ottumwa at 7 p.m.