Trying to keep pace with Albion and move a step closer to locking up a No. 2 seed in the Home Talent League playoffs, Stoughton had a setback with a 3-0 loss to Jefferson on Sunday, July 7, at Norse Park.

The Merchants (8-3) dropped into third place, one-half game behind Jefferson (8-2) in the Southeast Section. Stoughton trails Southeast Section-leading Albion by two games. The loss came after the Merchants pounded McFarland 17-5 on Thursday, July 4, at Norse Park.

Stoughton pitcher Ben Riffle said the Merchants still control their own destiny.

“We lost to Albion, but we have split with Evansville and Jefferson,” Riffle said. “We have already played the hardest part of our schedule. I think we can definitely win out. I think we still have a shot at that first seed because the other top teams have to play each other a little bit.”

Jefferson 3, Stoughton 0

Ike Taylor tossed a two-hit shutout to lead the Blue Devils to a win over the Merchants on Sunday.

Stoughton first baseman David Hanson had a second-inning single to left and second baseman Ervin Medina had a single to left in the third. Medina stole second base, but Taylor worked out of a jam, getting Yonardo Herdenez to pop out to third base and getting Chris Lund to ground out.

After the single to Medina, Taylor found his rhythm, retiring 18 straight batters until he walked Herdenez in the ninth.

The Merchants had only two runners reach second base. Riffle pitched eight innings and gave up three runs on 11 hits. He struck out two and didn’t issue a walk.

Riffle had a 1-2 count against Jefferson’s No. 9 hitter, before giving up a single. Jefferson’s Roby Schlesner then delivered a tie-breaking RBI single to left.

“I threw a curveball and it was pretty much in the dirt, and he threw his bat out there and it fell,” Riffle said. “With two outs, I left a changeup up and the guy (Robbie Schlesner) hit a single.”

In the ninth, Jefferson’s Tommy Schlesner singled off Riffle. Cory Roth then ripped a double to left.

“The single was just a bad pitch because I left it up,” Riffle said. “The fastball was right down the middle and they got enough wood on it to flare it out there.”

Stoughton 17, McFarland 5

Lund went 3-for-3 with two doubles and drove in three runs to lead the Merchants to a 17-5 seven-inning win over McFarlan last Thursday at Norse Park.

Stoughton led 5-2 after three innings. The Merchants scored two runs in the fourth, and broke the game open with five runs in both the fifth and sixth to build an insurmountable 17-2 lead.

The Merchants pounded out 13 hits. Herdenez went 3-for-3, and Hanson was 2-for-4 and drove in four runs.

Erick Sperloen pitched a complete game to get the win for the Merchants. He gave up three earned runs on 10 hits and struck out five.