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Alexandria hangs on to down Avon 4-3

Alexandria third baseman Cory Marek, right, throws the ball to first as Avon’s Logan Tycz, left, stays on third base in the Class B state amateur baseball tournament Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell. (Eric Mayer/Republic)

The No. 1-ranked Alexandria Angels held on to beat the Avon Bards 4-3 in a first-round game at the Class B state amateur baseball tournament Saturday at Cadwell Park in Mitchell.

The Bards rallied for two runs in the ninth inning after Josh Cihak drew a leadoff walk and Cody Ulmer dropped down a bunt base hit. Both Cihak and Ulmer advanced an extra base after an Alexandria error, and they scored on a Drue Soukup single to left field. Soukup was then thrown out trying to steal second with Avon trailing by one run. Trever Vermeulen came in to relieve Tyson Gau for Alexandria to record the final out of the game.

“It was ugly baseball,” said Angel manager Chris Marek. “Tyson (Gau) kept us in this game and we were able to pull it out. We need to play better defensively moving forward.”

Alexandria (20-2) advances to play the Redfield Pheasants at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Cadwell Park. Avon is eliminated and ends the year at 8-11.

Alexandria took a 3-1 lead after Cole Wenande hit a two-out single scoring Trevor Doyle, and Peyton Smith advanced home on an Avon error. Cory Marek followed up with an RBI double off the fence in left field putting the Angels up 4-1.

Avon’s Logan Tycz held the defending state champions at bay through five innings. He gave up four runs, two earned, on 10 hits and struck out one in six innings.

Gau earned the win for Alexandria, pitching 8 2/3 innings, giving up one run off three hits and striking out 10. Gau threw 136 pitches, 84 for strikes.

The Sunshine League champion Angels fell behind 1-0 in the top of the second after Dan Bures laced a leadoff single and scored on two Angel errors.

Alexandria responded in the bottom of the second as Pierce Smith scored off a Wenande RBI single.

Still tied in the top of the sixth inning, the Bards looked to take the lead after loading the bases with only one out, but pick-up player Ulmer, from Lesterville, hit into an inning-ending double play.

Avon manager Dan Bures said he was proud of his team’s effort as they hung around until the last out against the defending champs.

“Odds were stacked against us tonight. No one thought we had a prayer,” Bures said. “I think we gave them a good game. I couldn’t be more proud of my guys tonight.”