Blue Demons rally to advance

Jackson Pence runs in from the outfield on Saturday celebrating Albia’s 11-8 win over Chariton in the Class 2A, District First Round high school baseball contest at Pella Christian High School. Pence had four hits, drove in four runs and scored twice as the Blue Demons rallied from an early 6-1 deficit to advance in the postseason.

PELLA — Jackson Pence came up with big hit after big hit on Saturday night, helping extend the Blue Demon baseball season against a South Central Conference rival.

Pence went 4-4 at the plate for Albia in an 11-8 win over Chariton in the first of two Class 2A, District 11 first round games on Saturday at the Pella Christian High School baseball diamond. Pence scored Albia’s first run after leading off the second inning with a single, coming home on a two-out RBI hit by Tein Thiravong, before collecting the first of consecutive two-run hits in the third with Albia trailing 6-1.

“We’ve played in a ton of close games this year and have had to come back several times,” Albia head baseball coach Robbie D’Amato said. “Those experiences are proving to be very valuable for us.”

Pence connected on a single with the bases loaded, bringing home Jaden Hugen and Ashtin Brand to cut Chariton’s lead to 7-3. The Blue Demons (5-9) continued the comeback in the fourth inning, scoring five times to take the lead with Pence collecting one of five consecutive Albia hits during the rally, scoring on a two-run game-tying single by Hunter DeMoss.

“We had some tough bounces in the field, but the boys hung in there and made plays when we really needed them,” D’Amato said. “Our whole lineup hit the ball hard the whole game, which was great to see after a slow start.”

Jameson Robertson put the Blue Demons ahead for good with an RBI double that plated DeMoss, giving Albia an 8-7 lead. Pence would add to that lead in the fifth, doubling home Drew Chance and Eli Smith, giving the Blue Demons a three-run lead.

“I’m just very proud of our team battling back from being down and not giving up,” D’Amato said. “It’s been a few years since we’ve won a playoff game, so this one feels good.”

Albia will head to Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on Tuesday for the Class 2A district semifinals. The Blue Demons opened the season with a stunning 12-1 win in five innings over the Rockets back on June 15.

“We’re very excited to get back after it against a tough EBF team,” D’Amato said. “We know they’ll be ready to go, so we’ll have to do the same and prepare for another tough battle.”

Cardinal 2, Pella Christian 0

PELLA — Landon Becker made a pair of first-inning runs by the Comets hold up, tossing a complete-game one-hit shutout on the mound in the second Class 2A district first round contest of the night at Pella Christian High School.

Dawson Lewis gave Becker an early lead to work with, driving in Peyton Johnson with an RBI triple in the first inning. Lewis would score later in the inning on a wild pitch, giving Cardinal all the runs they would need.

Cardinal (8-3) heads to Ron Welsch Field in Eddyville on Tuesday to face Davis County in the Class 2A, District 11 semifinals. The Comets beat the Mustangs, 7-4, at Cardinal last Tuesday night.

Van Buren County 5, West Burlington 2

BURLINGTON — Jonah Heckenburg scored after lead-off hits in the first and third innings, coming home each time on RBI hits by Ryan Wolf in a Class 2A, District 10 first round contest at Community Stadium.

Tyler Sprouse went the distance on the mound for the Warriors, allowing just two runs on six hits and three walks over seven innings while striking out three batters. Tommy Adkins and Cory Bunnell both reached on errors and scored on wild pitches in the fourth inning, helping Van Buren County open a four-run lead.

The Warriors (4-7) head to Central Lee on Tuesday night for the Class 2A district semifinals. The Hawks shut out VBC, 6-0, back on June 23.

Moravia 11, Wayne 7

LEON — The Mohawks overcame a scare off the field and on the field Saturday, rallying from a five-run deficit to advance in Class 1A, District 12 first round action.

Moravia Community School District officials were informed on Saturday that some players and coaches may have been exposed to an individual who may have COVID-19. Those individuals were quarantined until test results were confirmed.

On the field, the Mohawks (8-7) rallied from a 7-2 deficit midway through the postseason opener. Will Martin had two hits, including a double, drove in three runs and scored three times at the top of the batting order as Moravia scored four times in the bottom of the fourth before taking the lead for good with a five-run rally in the fifth.

“Anytime you come back to win, it feels good,” Moravia head baseball coach Bill Huisman said. “Considering how bright it was at the start and how windy it was, there were some plays in the outfield that both teams had trouble with.

“It was a tough situation for our guys, but they came through.”

Moravia (8-7) returns to Central Decatur on Tuesday for the Class 1A district semifinals. The Mohawks will face the Cardinals exactly one week after suffering a 17-7 loss at Central Decatur to close out the regular season.

“We had our Senior trip last week, so our senior players were not here for that game,” Huisman said. “Central Decatur’s a good team with very good hitters, but it should be a much better battle this time.”

Central Decatur 17, Moulton-Udell 2

LEON — Matthew Boothe and Michel Evertsen each had three hits at the top of the line-up for Central Decatur, setting the pace for a big night at the plate against Wyatt Stansberry and the Eagles in Class 1A, District 10 first round action.

Stansberry pitched the first three innings for M-U before Zane Hawkathorne took over, pitching the final two innings after a rain delay. Central Decatur never looked back after scoring five times in the first inning, answering a second-inning run by the Eagles (3-9) with eight more runs in the bottom of the frame.

BGM 8, Pekin 5

MONTEZUMA — Eight walks in the final five innings by a trio of Pekin pitchers helped BGM rally from an early three-run deficit.

The Bears (8-4) stunned the Panthers with a seven-run rally in the top of the sixth, taking the lead for good when Jordan Kriegel hit a two-out ground ball that was bobbled by Cael Baker at short, allowing Mitch White to score the go-ahead run.

Jake Maurer delivered the key blow of the inning, clearing the bases with a three-run triple that ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. Kennan Winn scored Pekin’s final run of the season on a two-out RBI single by Brady Latchum in the bottom of the sixth, but Mason Juhl was thrown out at home to end the inning.

Pekin finishes the season with an 8-3 record and a share of the Southeast Iowa Superconference north division title. BGM will return to Montezuma to face the Braves in Tuesday’s Class 1A, District 10 semifinal.

Montezuma 3, Sigourney 1

MONTEZUMA — Cade Streigle put a charge into a two-out pitch from Eddie Burgess in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded for the Savages. The deep fly ball to left, however, did not leave the park for a go-ahead grand slam as Joey Kercheval grabbed the ball a few feet shy of the fence to clinch a thrilling Class 1A, District 10 first round win for the Braves.

Streigle took the loss on the hill despite a valiant effort against Burgess, allowing just two earned runs over six innings on four hits, two walks, one hit batter and nine strikeouts. Burgess matched Streigle, allowing four hits to the Savages while pitching around three walks, three balks and three hit batters with 13 strikeouts.

Montezuma (6-6) will host BGM in the district semifinals on Tuesday. Sigourney ends a winning season with a 10-6 record and will return eight starters next summer.

Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.

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