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Purple Eagles rally past Mustangs

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 21 April 2014 at 12:00 am

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Austin Loyd hurled Albion to a key win over rival Medina at Vets Park this evening.

Coming from behind twice, Albion posted a narrow 7-5 victory over rival Medina this evening in a key Niagara-Orleans League baseball game at Vets Park.

A three-run home run by John Warne and a two-run single by Connor Barleben provided the offensive punch for Albion supporting the steady pitching of Austin Loyd who struck out eight, scattered six hits and walked only one.

“Austin kept us in it, especially early when we were struggling a bit defensively,” said Albion Coach Bruce Blanchard whose Purple Eagles rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 5-3 to claim the win. “He kept throwing strikes and we had a couple of guys come up with big hits.”

Capitalizing on three errors and singles by Shane Freeman and Josh Scroger, Medina jumped out to a quick 3-0 first inning lead.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina’s Adam Hoot dives back into first base as Albion first baseman Steven Stauss tries to make the tag.

Albion did get one run back in the second inning on a two out RBI single by Matt Howell but the Purple Eagles missed opportunities in the next two frames. The Purple Eagles left runners stranded at first and third in the third after two walks and again in the fourth after a walk and a single by Aaron Burnside who also made a couple of big defensive plays at second base.

The Purple Eagles though finally pulled even at 3-3 in the top of the fifth on a one out two-run single by Barleben after two hit batsmen and an error had loaded the bases.

“That was a big hit Connor had to pull us even,” said Blanchard.

However, Medina got those two right back in the home half of the frame an on RBI single by Jason Hellwig and an error to regain what proved to be a brief 5-3 lead. A leadoff single by Sam Crowley and a sacrifice bunt bunt by Freeman set up that threat.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Medina shortstop Tyler Ames tries to put the tag on Albion runner Matt Howell.

Albion though again came battling back, this time which what proved to be a decisive four run uprising in the top of the sixth.

Two walks ignited that rally and then, after an out, John Krieger cut the deficit to 5-4 with an RBI single.

That set the stage for Warne who belted a towering three-run homer over the left field fence to give Albion the lead for the first time at 7-4.

“John hit a big one for us,” said Blanchard. “He’s been getting himself out so I told him to just be patient and hit his pitch and he did.”

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s John Warne (5) gets congratulated by his teammates after hitting what proved to be a game winning three-run hime run.

However, Medina did mount one last threat getting the bases loaded with two out in the bottom of the seventh on a hit batsman, a single by Scroger and a walk.

Loyd though bore down to notch a clutch game ending strikeout to get out of the jam and preserve the Purple Eagles win.

“That was a big win for us,” said Blanchard. “We stuck with it after that tought start, Austin kept throwing strikes and walked just the one. We had a couple of big hits and defensively we made a couple of big plays.”

The victory boosts Albion’s N-O record to 3-1 while Medina slips to 2-2.

Photo by Cheryl Wertman – Albion’s Noah Preston makes a diving catch in right field.