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Purple Eagles win thriller in 8 innings to gain A2 finals

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 29 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Coming up big both offensively and defensively in the eighth inning, No. 2 Albion nipped visiting No. 6 Cheektowaga 3-2 this afternoon in the semifinal round of the Section VI Class A2 playoffs.

The Albion defense did the job in the top of the eighth as JJ Downs turned a clutch double play to shut down a Cheektowaga threat and keep the contest deadlocked.

The Purple Eagles offense then pushed across the winning run in the bottom of the eighth on a hard hit single off the bat of Connor Barleben which drove in John Krieger. Walks to Krieger and Steven Stauss set up the threat.

Albion’s only other runs came in the first inning on a two run double by John Warne as a pair of walks again set up the threat.

Cheektowaga battled back into 2-2 tie by scoring one in both the fourth and fifth innings.

However, on both occasions Albion pitcher Austin Loyd, who went the distance on the mound, got out of further trouble with an inning ending strikeout.

Loyd, who went on to retire the Warriors in order in both the sixth and seventh innings, fanned 11 on the day while scattering five hits.

“Austin was hitting his spots,” said Albion Coach Bruce Blanchard. “Eleven strikeouts, five hits and just one walk, what more can you ask for. He did a great job”

The Purple Eagles defense likewise came up big on several occasions including a clutch throw from center fielder Trey Hart to Warne for an out at home in the fourth inning.

“That was the best game that we have played defensively,” said Blanchard.

Albion will next face No. 4 Springville for the A2 title at 4 p.m. Saturday at Lew-Port as the Purple Eagles look to avenge a 13-7 loss to the Griffins in last year’s semifinal.

Springville downed No. 1 Pioneer 4-2 in the other semi.