Utica kept its Home Talent League playoff hopes alive after an 8-4 comeback win over Lake Mills on Sunday, July 4.

Utica (5-7) trails Evansville and Fort Atkinson (7-4) by 2.5 games for the final playoff spot.

“We are not mathematically eliminated,” Utica player-manager Christian Stokstad said. “We have to keep winning and hope the right teams lose. I’m more worried about us continuing to improve and taking care of business.”

Utica lost 9-1 in a home Night League game against Albion on Thursday, July 11. The A’s dropped to 0-5 in the Night League.

Brock Wanninger played a pivotal role in the A’s comeback win.

Wanniger went 4-for-5 with two doubles and an RBI. He also pitched three shutout innings in relief to get the win. He gave up just two hits, struck out six and walked one.

The A’s had to rally from a 4-0 deficit. Utica’s Aaron Zimmerman had a two-run double to highlight a six-run eighth inning to help the Merchants take a 6-4 lead. The A’s scored the go-ahead run on an error, and John Rath hit a two-run home run to cap the eighth.

“We were not doing too much offensively the whole game until the eighth inning,” Stokstad said. “Strasburg was pitching a good game, but I think he ran out of gas in the eighth because it was hot out there. We finally started to get some clutch hits going.”

Utica’s Mike Lund went 3-for-5 with an RBI, and Zimmerman was 2-for-5 with two RBIs. Andy Martin went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.

Utica’s Aaron Schauer started and surrendered four earned runs in six innings. He struck out 13 and walked one. At one point, Schauer struck out eight straight batters.

Albion 9, Utica 1

The A’s are still searching for their first Night League win after a loss to Albion last Thursday.

Utica was plagued by seven errors.

“It was an ugly game,” Skotsad said.

Alec Tomczyk went 1-for-3 for the A’s.

Utica’s Tony Kapral was hit by a pitch in the fifth. Sam Rath delivered an RBI single to score Kapral for the A’s lone run.