Albert Lea VFW baseball team run at state ends

Published 4:34 pm Saturday, August 9, 2008

The offense was there for the Albert Lea VFW baseball team Friday against Maplewood in the state tournament, but clutch hitting could not be found in a 6-0 season-ending loss.

The loss wrapped up an otherwise successful season for Post 447. Albert Lea made its first trip to the VFW state tournament since the late 1970s and finished the season with a 26-9 overall record.

“It’s good for Albert Lea baseball,” said Post 447 head coach Jack Kortan about the state tournament appearance. “It’s still been a long time. Hopefully we get stronger and stronger and make it up again.”

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Post 447 entered the state tournament on a roll, winning its last six consecutive games. Albert Lea extended that streak to seven games Thursday in a 4-0 win over Perham, but the breaks the team got to put it in the state tournament suddenly shifted toward the opponent.

Cold Spring defeated Post 447 8-6 after Albert Lea scored six runs in the seventh inning. Then on Friday Post 447 outhit Maplewood 7-6, but stranded nine runners on base, leaving the bases loaded in two innings.

Trailing 3-0 in the fifth inning, Albert Lea had the bases full with two outs, but couldn’t find a hit that could have put the team back into the game.

“Three-zero, bases loaded in the fifth, that’s a big spot,” Kortan said.

In the seventh Post 447 threatened with the bases loaded again, but still couldn’t find a clutch hit to keep the game going.

Aaron Klatt got the start for Albert Lea and allowed six runs, five earned, on six hits.

Maplewood moved on as one of the final four teams in the tournament. The other teams include Eagan, Maple Grove and Cold Spring.

“Wrong side of the bracket for Albert Lea,” Kortan said. “Great year, we just came up short.”

The VFW team will lose four players, but return a core of nine players that will now have the experience of playing in a state tournament.

“We had a good season, something to build on,” Kortan said. “We’re going to be pretty solid next year. They know they can play with these guys.”

Maplewood 6, Albert Lea 0

Albert Lea – 000 000 0 – 0 7 1

Maplewood – 003 030 x – 6 6 0

LP – Aaron Klatt 6 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K