E.J. Thomas of Albert Lea/Austin tosses the ball to Zach Huntley at first base Thursday against the Rochester A's at Hayek Field in Albert Lea. Albert Lea/Austin fell 6-3. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
E.J. Thomas of Albert Lea/Austin tosses the ball to Zach Huntley at first base Thursday against the Rochester A's at Hayek Field in Albert Lea. Albert Lea/Austin fell 6-3. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Gallery: A 7th-inning stunner

Published 11:06pm Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Albert Lea/Austin American Legion baseball team dominated the first six innings at Hayek Field on Thursday, but the Rochester A’s caught fire in the top of the seventh by scoring five runs to win 6-3.

“Hopefully we learn from it and get better,” Albert Lea/Austin co-head coach Jay Enderson said. “Next week it’s a whole new deal.”

The loss was the regular-season finale for Posts 56 and 91. Albert Lea/Austin finished with an 8-13 overall record.

After Albert Lea/Austin pitcher Marcus Stoulil didn’t allow any hits in the top of the first, Posts 56 and 91 lit up the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning when lead-off hitter Ethan Horstmann scored on a Rochester throwing error.

The A’s tied the game 1-1 in the top of the second, but Albert Lea/Austin recaptured the lead (2-1) in the bottom of the fourth when Zach Huntley hit a double, stole third and scored on a single by Steve Clennon.

In the top of the fifth, Dylan See-Rockers sprinted near the warning track to grab the third out with two runners in scoring position.

“He covered a lot of ground, and that probably saved one or two runs right there,” Enderson said.

See-Rockers changed positions in the outfield after the fall season.

“I’m a lot more comfortable in center field,” he said. “You don’t have to deal with all the slicing that you have in left field.”

Albert Lea/Austin maintained its one-run lead through the sixth. Stoulil ended the top of the inning with a strike-out. In the bottom, Wyatt Paulsen hit a one-out triple but was stranded.

With its back against the wall, Rochester came alive in the top of the seventh by scoring five runs.

“Marcus pitched a heck of a game,” Enderson said. “He got a few bad breaks, but that’s baseball.”

Posts 56 and 91 attempted to rally in the bottom of the seventh to no avail. A single by Stoulil scored Johnathan Fleek to cut into Rochester’s lead (6-3).

“I wasn’t going to win the game, and the closest thing I could’ve done was get us within one run,” Stoulil said. “To say I wasn’t swinging for the fence would be a lie — because I was.

“It turned out to be a base hit, so that was nice.”

However, the A’s were able to hang on.

Enderson said he doesn’t know which team his squad will play in the first round of the postseason tournament. Legion teams continue playing regular season games until Sunday. After the final standings are tallied, seeding will begin.

Despite a tough loss, Albert Lea/Austin’s players kept a positive outlook.

“I think we’re saving it for the playoffs,” Stoulil said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to get guys in and scoring runs.”

See-Rockers echoed Stoulil’s sentiments.

“We’ll be ok,” he said. “We have a good team, and I think we’re going to string a few wins together and keep it going.”