Rally just falls short for Colonels

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 20, 2002

Despite the fact they were chasing a three or four-run deficit most of the night, victory was within sight in the bottom of the ninth inning for the Albert Lea Colonels.

It remained just out of reach.

The Colonels rallied for two runs in the ninth but left a pair of baserunners stranded in a 4-3 loss to the Rochester Blues at Hayek Field Wednesday night.

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&uot;It’s a tough loss,&uot; said Colonels manager Bill Trygstad. &uot;The guys kept battling, there’s no question about that. We had our chances in the ninth, but we waited a little too long. We just didn’t get the key hit when we needed it.&uot;

They had two final chances in the ninth, with runners on first and second with one out, but a strikeout and a popup ended it.

Ryan Wangen led off the inning with a walk, Phil Wacholz singled and Matt Trygstad walked to load the bases. Wangen scored on a wild pitch and, after a popup for the first out, Anthony Lowman beat out a ground ball that was mishandled at third for Rochester’s only error.

The Colonels’ other run came in the sixth, on a single by Justin Kohn and a pinch-hit double by Isaac Walton.

The Blues scored all their runs in the first three innings off Jeff Schulz, who went 6 2/3 innings and took the loss. He gave up eight hits, with five walks and six strikeouts. All four Rochester runs were earned.

&uot;It was his first start of the year and he didn’t get in the groove until after the second inning,&uot; said Bill Trygstad. &uot;Jeff pitched real well after that.&uot;

So did veteran Mike Piechowski, who blanked the Blues through the final 2 1/3 innings for his third straight strong outing in relief. The right-hander didn’t allow a hit, walking two and fanning three.

The Colonels, who stranded seven baserunners, got one hit each from Kohn, Walton, Wacholz, Brad Carlson, Brett Damerow and Andrew Greibrok. Two Rochester pitchers combined for four strikeouts and three walks.

The Colonels fell to 3-5 overall while the Blues &045; Rochester’s No. 2 team &045; improved to 11-4.

The Colonels travel to Northfield for another nonleague contest Friday and return to Southern Minny League play Sunday against Owatonna at Hayek Field. Albert Lea is 2-2 in league games, with victories over last year’s state runner-up Austin and perennial power Waseca.

&uot;We’re hoping to play two more good games this weekend,&uot; said Trygstad. &uot;There’s no reason we can’t.&uot;

Blues 4, Colonels 3


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Albert Lea

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LP – Jeff Schulz (0-1)