In their two district matchups this season, the Albany baseball team thumped Anson 11-1 and 12-1 on its way to the District 8-2A championship.

On Thursday, however, the Lions found the Tigers a much more formidable foe, needing a late rally to claim a 7-4 win in Game 1 of a best of three Region I-2A quarterfinal series at Abilene Christian University’s Crutcher Scott Field.

Anson, which limped into the playoffs as District 8’s fourth-place team, has regained its footing in the postseason, defeating District 7 champion Miles (7-5) and Anthony (15-0) in the first two rounds — both in one-game playoffs. And though the Tigers (11-11) fell short Thursday, they put up enough of a fight in the opener to enter the series’ second day Saturday with confidence.

“We knew this was going to be a battle all the way through,” Anson coach Scotty Nichols said. “We were expecting to compete, which we did. I told the guys, ‘There’s nothing to hang your head about. We had a good effort.’

“Albany’s a good team, but I fully expect on Saturday for it to be a battle all the way through. That’s what we’ve got to preach to our guys. It’s got to be one pitch at a time and one out at a time. Good things can happen to us.”

Game 2 is scheduled for 11 a.m. at Crutcher Scott Field with Game 3 to follow, if necessary.

Albany coach David Fairchild is hoping a third game isn’t needed, and he’s been preaching to his players that these aren’t the same Tigers they…