Johnston gave way to senior staff ace Christian Bambrook, who kept Albia from scoring the walk-off run in the seventh after getting the first two men on. Sinclair started the eighth inning with a single and after poping up a bunt attempt into the EBF dugout, Gray swung away and ripped a double that got down the line and past EBF right fielder Cole Maines to allow Sinclair to come all the way around first with the winning run.
"I just got the signal to swing away, so I let my hands go," Gray said. "I figured whatever happened, it was going to be tough facing Bambrook. I just tried to go up there with as much confidence as possible and hope for the best."
Sinclair slid across home plate in front of Bambrook, who slapped his glove in bitter disappoinment. The senior saw his career at EBF end with a fourth consecutive loss in the district final, including a second upset loss to Albia.
"You hate to see a career like Christian's end like that, but then again you hate to see anyone's season end in a game like this," EBF head coach Rod Ashman said. "I really thought this was going to be our year to win and move on, possibly all the way to state. I know we'll get there one day. It just wasn't to be this year."
Instead, it will be 23-16 Albia that will advance to Tuesday night's Class 2A, Substate 6 Final in Fairfield as the District 12 champs after ending EBF's season at 27-14. The Blue Demons will make their fourth trip to the substate round of the postseason looking to make it to state for the second time under Brittan when they face 26-16 Mediapolis, a 6-2 winner over 12-26 Mid-Prairie on Saturday in the District 11 final.
"I have absoultely no idea what to expect from Mediapolis right now," Brittan said immediately after winning yet another postseason thriller Saturday in Albia. "But, I'll know plenty by Tuesday."