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Comets sizzle, Monroe fizzles
Times photo: Mark Nesbitt Monroe catcher Kyle Klopfensten is tagged out by Albany backstop Steffan Guilbault during the seventh inning of Albanys 4-3, eight-inning victory at home Monday night. Order photo
ALBANY - The Albany Senior Legion baseball team earned the nickname the Cardiac Comets after pulling off a stunning, 4-3 comeback win over Monroe Monday night in eight innings.

The Cheesemakers (0-2-1, 0-1 Senior Legion) clung to a 3-1 eighth-inning lead before Albany (1-0) stung Monroe relief pitcher Cory Kundert for three runs in the bottom of the eighth. Drew Peach, who was 2-for-4, led off the game-winning rally with a single. Mike Elmer then lined a double to center. Trent Gerber, who was also 2-for-4, smoked a game-tying two-run single.

"I was kind of still down on myself because I struck out," Gerber said reflecting on his last at-bat. "I heard some advice from the dugout to keep my elbow up. I was just thinking I have to pick up the team since I struck out two times before."

With two outs, Brandon Pfeuti, who was 2-for-3, smoked a game-winning RBI single to left.

"It's just an amazing feeling to come through in the clutch," Pfeuti said. "The two hits I had gave me a boost of confidence. We couldn't have done it without our pitching and defense."

The Cheesemakers threatened to score in just about every inning, getting the lead off batter on in seven of the eight innings. The Cheesemakers left 11 runners on base and didn't break through to tie the game at 1 until the seventh. Josh Popanz cracked a game-tying RBI single to center, but the potential game-winning run in Kyle Klopfenstein was thrown out at home to force extra innings.

Scott Kline (4-for-4, hit by pitch) and Klopfenstein (2-for-2, two walks) combined for a 1.000 on base percentage in leading the Cheesemakers as the first two hitters in the lineup.

"We just left too many runners on base," Monroe coach Bruce Rear said. "You have to find a way to get those runs in. It bit us in the end."

Albany starting pitcher Tyler Bauman lived on the edge and flirted with danger throughout the game. Bauman worked out of a no-out bases-loaded jam in the third. Bauman struck out Nate Barta and induced Kundert to hit a comebacker to him, which he threw home to cut down the lead runner. He then struck out Popanz to end the threat. With two runners on and no outs in the fifth, Barta grounded into a double play started by Bauman. Albany turned its second double play in the sixth and Bauman wiggled out of a two-on, no-out jam in the seventh by giving up just one run.

"This is the kind of ballgame people like to come and watch," Albany coach Brian Dahl said. "Both pitchers did a tremendous job. It was our night."

The Cheesemakers built a two-run lead in the eighth off Albany relief pitcher Adam Scheidegger. Drew Geisbuhler, who was 2-for-3, led off with a walk. One batter later, Kris Reider lined a go-ahead RBI single to right center to give the Cheesemakers a 2-1 lead. Kline drove in another run by beating out a swinging bunt to give the Cheesemakers a 3-1 lead.

The Comets' comeback overshadowed a dominating pitching performance by Monroe's Mike Rear. In seven innings, Rear gave one run on five hits. He struck out 11 and hit three batters. He walked just two.

"The first thing that crossed my mind was thinking about sending Mike back out," Bruce Rear said. "I thought for the first game out in conference, I'm not going to throw his arm out."

Rear knows said timeliness was the difference in such a hotly-contested game.

"Our pitching and defense was stellar," Bruce Rear said. "They (Albany) were just a little better than we were tonight. They got the hits when they needed them and we didn't. That is the bottom line of the game."