ALBION — Despite falling to Albion in the winner’s bracket final on Sunday, Pierce beat Wayne by one run on Monday in the loser’s bracket final to get back to face Albion.
On Tuesday, Pierce went on to win both of its must-win games against Albion, 7-2 and 10-1, which punched its ticket to the Class B Junior Legion state tournament.
“We knew we could win three games in a row — but the difference was our defense tonight,” Pierce coach Mike Emory said. “Our defense was spectacular tonight, and I’ve got to tip my cap to our pitchers Jace (Mohr) and Haiden (Magnussen).”
In the first game, Mohr pitched a gem for Pierce, striking out 10 Albion hitters as he allowed six hits in 6 2/3 innings.
Then in the “if necessary, game,” Pierce had another great outing on the mound, this time from Magnussen, who had seven strikeouts and allowed one hit in seven innings of work.
“They did a great job of getting ahead of hitters and they had command of their curveballs tonight,” Emory said. “Both of them threw great games.”
In the second game of the evening, Albion got on the board first in the third inning when Devon Luettel reached base on a walk, moved around to third on a base hit and sacrifice bunt, to then later score on a passed ball.
That lead was short-lived as Pierce was able to grab the lead in the following frame on a two-run line drive single up the middle by Travis Emory.
Pierce added to its lead in the fifth inning on a sacrifice flyout to right field by Michael Kruntorad and on a passed ball to score Bode Hoffmann.
Pierce was able to put the game away in the sixth with another run on a passed ball and then Hoffmann’s two-run double over the left fielder’s head to make it 7-1, while the Albion bats stayed quiet.
“We really did a nice job all week. We hit the ball really well up until tonight,” Albion coach Andy Bird said. “Hats off to Pierce, they really played well.”
Pierce ended the game with three more runs in the seventh inning.
In the first game, Pierce jumped out to a 4-1 lead in the third inning with RBI singles from Colby Anderson, Magnussen, Emory and Dawson Raabe.
Pierce tacked on two more in the fifth on a double to deep left field by Raabe and added one more in the sixth when Kruntorad scored on a wild pitch.
Carsten Bird was able to keep Albion in the game for three innings with a solid performance on the mound, but Albion had four errors behind him in the field. Albion also was able to muster only three hits in six innings, leading up to the last inning.
“We just didn’t make the plays in the field, and we just didn’t hit the ball,” Bird said. “It’s a tough one to take in, but we had a really good season.”
Anderson was able to record the final out for Pierce as James Fogleman of Albion flied out to the shortstop, to end the game at 7-2.
Pierce will have to turn things around fairly quickly as the Juniors will get to compete in their first game of the Junior Legion state tournament this Saturday in Waverly.
“We wanted to get there first. We have a ton of momentum going into the weekend, but we’ll go down there and give it our best shot,” Emory said.
Albion 010 100 0 — 2 6 4
Pierce 004 021 X — 7 9 2
2B: (P) Raabe, (A) Bird, Reilly
Pierce 000 223 3 — 10 8 0
Albion 001 000 0 — 1 1 2
2B: (P) Hoffmann