By Calli Townsend
The Almont Raiders defeated the North Branch Broncos 10-4 in extra innings for the MHSAA Division II District 61 championship in Yale on Saturday, June 5. The Raiders were favored to win the title game, but the Broncos still made it tough as they hung close through seven innings.
Almont defeated Imlay City 13-0 earlier that morning in one of the semifinal games. The Broncos upset Yale in the other semifinal game, 6-5, with a 5-0 rally in the last two innings to take the win.
The Raiders got off to a hot start with a 3-0 lead by the bottom of the third, but a single RBI by Aiden Swoish sparked the Broncos’ lineup to make it 3-1. Dominic Schierlinger then told home to make it 3-2.
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Almont bounced back with a single RBI by Landon Kruse to advance 4-2 in the top of the fifth. Their lead didn’t last long, however, as the Broncos, still riding the momentum of the day’s earlier semifinal victory. They began their comeback with two runs to tie the game, 4-4.
Bases were loaded in the top of the eighth when Reis Stine came up to bat. Two Raiders scored on two passed balls to take the lead 6-4. On the third pitch, he popped out to center field, but still scored Haldeman.
A pair of singles and one error later gave Almont a 9-4 lead, followed by a double Kruse to score Kylar Fisher, 10-4. The Broncos couldn’t bounce back from the deficit and finished the game with three outs on four at-bats.
Brandon Hunsaker started the game for the Broncos and made it through five innings, facing 25 batters and throwing 51 strikes. Stine came in to finish the game in the sixth inning and earned the win.
Kruse led the Almont lineup a double and three total bases. Blake Cody and Nolan Idyle each added two. Brant Primeau led the Broncos’ offense with three total bases, and Brady Mitchell added two.
Almont will play Pontiac Notre Dame Prep on Wednesday, June 9 at 4:30 p.m. in Orchard Lake, Michigan, in the first round of the regional tournament.