ALBIA — Locked in a pitching duel, Prairie City-Monroe High’s Mustangs and Albia High’s Blue Demons found scoring runs at a premium Tuesday night.
The Mustangs and Blue Demons made a lot of noise throughout the Iowa Class 2A, District 12 tournament semifinal game. Only three runs were scored in the seven-inning contest.
Unfortunately for the Mustangs, the Demons came up with the winner in an edge-of-your-seat seventh inning.
Two plays at the plate determined the outcome and which team advanced to the district championship game. PCM and Albia were at a 1-1 standoff entering the seventh inning.
PCM starter Alex DeWitte and Albia starter Victory Sanders were still on the mound for their respective teams. The two pitchers and their defenses had bent several times throughout the contest but only gave up a run apiece.
Despite playing the district tournament on their home field, the Blue Demons were the visiting team on the scoreboard. They had come up with the tying run in the fourth after the Mustangs manufactured a run in the second inning.
Albia’s Austin O’Leary beat out a hit to second on a close play at first base to open the seventh inning. Hugh Sinclair put down a bunt, but the Mustangs threw to second to get the lead runner on a fielder’s choice.
Sinclair stole second, then Ethan Gray’s drive to left center field was misplayed by the Mustangs. Sinclair ended up at third and Gray was at first, so the Mustangs pulled in the infield to try to prevent a run from scoring.
Daniel Bunnell was at the plate for the Demons. Albia’s players executed a suicide squeeze bunt to perfection with Bunnell putting down the bunt and Sinclair sliding home for the go-ahead run. There was nothing Mustang catcher Nathan VandeWall could do.
But the Mustangs worked out of it, using an intentional walk to load the bases to play the percentages of coming up with a force out. DeWitte struck out Griffin Osing then got Gabe Gravert to ground into a fielder’s choice.
Now, it was PCM’s turn in the seventh.
Zach Uhlenhopp, who had driven in the Mustang run on a sacrifice fly in the second, dropped a single down the right field line. Carson King went in to run for Uhlenhopp. Glenn Gillespie bunted and it was turned into a fielder’s choice, forcing King out at second.
Ron Marshall took over for Gillespie on the basepaths. Alek Breckenridge hit into a fielder’s choice and went to second on a passed ball. The Blue Demons issued an intentional walk to Clay Cooper.
On an 0-2 pitch, PCM’s Trey Lindsay laced a single to right field. Breckenridge was held up at third, but Cooper rounded second and headed to third. The Blue Demons throw caught Cooper in a rundown.
Breckenridge bolted toward home trying to score the tying run. Albia’s catcher, Gravert, was set up and ready to take the throw. Gravert got the tag on Breckenridge, who attempted to slide around the catcher to get to the plate.
The game ended with Albia winning, 2-1, and the Mustangs’ season halted.
Prairie City-Monroe scored in the second when DeWitte singled, and Troy Vittetoe went in as a courtesy runner. Vittetoe raced from first to third on Chase Keuning’s single. Uhlenhopp sent a sacrifice fly to the left field fence for the RBI.
In the fourth with one gone, Gravert and Drew Schofield hit doubles to almost the same spot in left-center field to produce the Demons’ run.
The Mustangs finished at 19-15.
DeWitte allowed seven hits, walked two and hit a batter in the pitching duel with Sanders. DeWitte struck out four. Sanders gave up six hits, walked two and struck out three. PCM committed two errors, and Albia had one error.
Breckenridge was 2-for-3 with two singles for the Mustangs. Lindsay, DeWitte, Keuning and Uhlenhopp each had a single.