By ROGER THOMAS Courier correspondent
---- — ALBIA — The Chariton Chargers claimed the outright South Central baseball championship with a 7-1 and 7-3 sweep of Albia Monday night in Albia. The two wins gave No. 7 (3A) Chariton a 16-4 mark in the SCC, one game ahead of the Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont Rockets.
Get a couple of runs here, add a couple of runs there, tack on a couple of more a few innings later, and tack on one more just to be sure. That was the formula for a 7-1 game one win.
No big innings, but constant pressure on the Blue Demon defense, allowed the Chargers to take advantage of any opportunity to score. Chariton scored its seven runs on only six hits in the opener.
“Our bats were dragging a little early but I felt like we gave ourselves chances to score,” said Chariton coach Jake Schroeder. “I thought we picked up our hitting in the second game like we needed to.”
Charlie Palmer gave Chariton a great start. He opened the game by recording the first six outs against Albia all via the strikeout. He would go on to have nine in his six innings of work.
“I felt really good early and coach said it looked like I had a little extra zip on my fastball,” said Palmer. “Then I just settled in and tried to stay in my routine.”
“We just weren’t mentally ready to have good swings at the plate to start game one,” said Albia coach Boyd Brittain.
The Chargers went up 2-0 in the second. Austin Ritenour delivered a two-out, two-RBI single.
That would be Ritenour’s only hit of the game, but with a walk and two sacrifice flies (one for an RBI), all four of his at-bats were productive.
“You can definitely be productive without getting a hit,” said Ritenour. “Being in the lead-off spot, you are just looking to get on or at least work the count.”
Albia never had a serious scoring threat in the middle innings and when Chariton added two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth, they were comfortably up 6-0. The Chargers had only two hits while adding the runs but they would score three of the runs on wild pitches. Token Hall’s double plated the other.
Chariton went up 7-0 in the sixth. Ritenour’s sacrifice fly scored Ben Kinser, who had doubled earlier in the inning.
The Blue Demons finally got to Palmer in the sixth. Back-to-back two-out hits by Austin Luse and Griffin Osing accounted for Albia’s lone run. Osing had a double for the RBI. Palmer ended the inning with his ninth strikeout.
“Charlie gave us a great start,” said Schroeder. “The biggest improvement he has made is that he doesn’t give up many walks.”
Chariton stranded two runners in the seventh and Alex Wright came on in relief for Chariton and retired the Blue Demons in order to end it.
The Chargers failed to score in the top of the opening inning of game two. Number two and number three hitters, Lucas Heaverlo and Austin Peterson, each singled. Albia catcher Gabe Gravert erased both runners by throwing them out trying to steal second.
Even though both runners were erased, the hits seemed to awaken the bats of the top of the Chariton lineup. The first four hitters would have nine of the 11 game-two Charger hits.
Peterson, who had three hits, talked about what got the lineup going.
“We all just focused on what we were playing for. Also, the second game is usually a better hitting game because a lot of high school pitchers are similar.”
In game two, Albia came out with aggressive at bats early to take a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Hugh Sinclair and Ethan Gray had back-to-back singles. The first run scored on Bryce Leshen’s sacrifice fly and Osing’s double scored the second.
The 2-0 score held up through the third. One of the major factors in game two was that the Blue Demons left the bases loaded in the third.
“If we tack on a couple of more there, it changes the game and it maybe could have been a lot different,” said Brittain.
In the middle of the Albia threat, Schroeder made a trip to the mound to talk to Chariton second game starter and winner, Jordan Baughman.
“He just told me to stick with my routine and I’d be OK,” said Baughman. “I’m used to playing short and pitching the second game, so that wasn’t going to be a problem.”
The top of the fourth was the fatal inning for the Blue Demons. The Chargers had four hits but Albia’s three errors caused three of the six Chariton runs to be unearned.
“We just needed to make a play and we didn’t get it done,” added Brittain.
Peterson and Baughman opened the Chariton fourth with back-to-back singles for their second hits of the game. Wright and Brett Braida delivered RBIs, and two Blue Demon errors and a wild pitch allowed the other runs to score. Aggressive Charger base running caused some of the problems for the Albia infield.
Schroeder talked about the big inning.
“We always look to put pressure on the defense by being aggressive and taking the extra base.
I think we ran ourselves into a couple of those runs.”
Albia added a run in the home fifth. Luse’s single and stolen base was followed up by Osing’s RBI single. Baughman would retire the Blue Demons in order in the sixth and seventh to close out the sweep.
After getting out of the tough fourth, Albia starting pitcher Vic Sanders would go on to finish his gutsy, complete game performance. He would allow Chartion only a single run in the seventh. Peterson and Baughman would each have their third game two hit and Wright delivered the RBI.
“Sometimes in baseball it requires a real mental toughness to handle things,” said Brittain. “Vic is the kind of kid that doesn’t let tough things get to him.”
No. 7 (3A) Chariton (29-4) played at Creston Tuesday as the Courier went to press before returning home to host Saydel Thursday afternoon. The Blue Demons (19-16, 10-10) will not be back in action until Thursday when Albia travels to Cardinal for JV/varsity action.
Chariton 7, Albia 1
Char 020 221 0 — 7 6 2
Alb 000 001 0 — 1 5 1
Chariton battery — Charlie Palmer (W, 6-1) (6IP, 5H, R, ER, 9K) and Alex Wright (IP, K), Wright and Austin Ritenour catching.
2B — Austin Peterson, Ben Kinser, Token Hall.
Hits —Ritenour 1-for-1, Peterson 1-for-4, Jordan Baughman 1-for-2, Brett Braida 1-for-3, Kinser 1-for-3, Hall 1-for-2.
RBI — Ritenour 3, Hall.
Runs — Peterson, Wright, T.J. Hockenson 2, Braida, Kinser 2.
Albia battery — Drew Schofield (L, 2-3) (4IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER, 2K, 4BB) and Christian Summers (3IP, 3H, 3R, 2ER, K, 3BB), Daniel Bunnell catching.
2B — Griffin Osing 2.
Hits —Hugh Sinclair 1-for-3, Austin Luse 2-for-3, Osing 2-for-3.
RBI — Osing.
Runs — Luhse.
Chariton 7, Albia 3
Char 000 600 1 — 7 11 2
Alb 200 010 0 — 3 8 3
Chariton battery — Jordan Baughman (W, 4-1) (7IP, 8H, 3R, 2ER, 7K, 3BB), Alex Wright catching.
Hits — Austin Ritenour 1-for-4, Lucas Heaverlo 2-for-4, Austin Peterson 3-for-4, Baughman 3-for-4, Brett Braida 2-for-4.
RBI — Wright 2, Braida.
Runs — Peterson 2, Baughman, Wright, T.J. Hockenson, Braida, Ben Kinser.
Albia battery — Victor Sanders (L, 6-1) (7IP, 11H, 7R, 4ER, 4K), Gabe Gravert catching.
2B — Griffin Osing.
Hits — Hugh Sinclair 1-for-4, Ethan Gray 1-for-4, Brett Leshen 1-for-3, Luse 1-for-4, Osing 2-for-3, Summers 1-for-3, Austin O’Leary 1-for-3.
RBI — Leshen, Osing 2.
Runs — Luse, Gray, Sinclair.