Baseball Tigers drop season opener

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 2, 2003

It pretty much came down to one play for the Albert Lea High School baseball team on opening day.

Owatonna had the bases loaded with two outs in the top of the sixth inning when the batter hit a shot to the outfield. The Tigers’ center fielder made a diving attempt, just missing the ball, and it went all the way to the fence for an inside-the-park grand slam home run.

It was the difference as the Tigers lost 7-4 at Hayek Field Tuesday.

Email newsletter signup

&uot;For an opening game, we played well,&uot; said ALHS coach Joe Sczublewski. &uot;Hopefully, we’ll keep improving as the season goes along.&uot;

After spotting Owatonna two runs in the top of the second, the Tigers took a 3-2 lead in the third on singles by Jared Butler, David Villarreal and Nate Loberg, and a sacrifice fly by Brandon Klukow.

The Tigers’ other run came in the seventh, when Loberg singled, Derek Goodnature doubled and Loberg came in on a wild pitch.

The Tigers outhit the Huskies 5-3 but had three errors to none for Owatonna.

Goodnature, a senior right-hander, started on the mound and threw well overall but was inconsistent. He went five innings, allowing two earned runs on two hits, with four strikeouts, four walks and four hit batsmen.

&uot;Derek had some control problems today, and he might have tired a little bit at the end,&uot; said Sczublewski.

Klukow came on in relief in the sixth and, after allowing a walk to the first batter he faced, gave up the inside-the-park home run. Josh Diaz pitched the seventh inning.

&uot;We showed a lot of good things,&uot; said Sczublewski. &uot;I was kind of happy with our defense. We had three errors, but we made some very nice plays.&uot;

Included was a shoestring catch by right fielder Ben Meillier that saved at least one run in the fifth inning. Diaz had some nice plays at third base, while Klukow made a tough catch at first base and Ryan Truesdell made an impressive back-handed play on a ground ball to second.

&uot;We had several really nice plays out there, especially considering it was the first game of the year,&uot; said Sczublewski. &uot;The thing that hurt us today was we weren’t getting enough strikes. Their pitchers walked one. We had five walks and three hit batters. Owatonna also had some timely hits, and we had several opportunities to break it open but didn’t put it away.&uot;

The Tigers host one of the Big Nine favorites in Mankato West Thursday at 4:30.