Rockets get by Tigers

Published 2:21 am Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Defending Big Nine baseball champion John Marshall showed Tuesday if Albert Lea wants to contend for the title the Tigers still need to go through the Rockets.

The Rockets graduated all but one starter from last year’s conference championship team, but still gave the Tigers fits in a 5-4 victory to snap Albert Lea’s three-game winning streak.

John Marshall (3-3, 3-2 Big Nine) took a 4-1 lead through the middle innings while the Tigers (5-2, 4-2 Big Nine) grew impatient at the plate and dug a bigger hole late in the game with fielding errors.

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“I was hoping we would swing better than that,” said Tigers head coach Joe Sczublewski. “Third time around we started swinging the bat a little better. By then we had taken too many innings off, given them too many easy innings.”

Rockets starter Jeff Sipple began the game with some wildness but settled in until the sixth inning. Sipple faced two over the minimum from the second inning through the fifth as Albert Lea went after first-pitch offerings.

“We were impatient at the plate, weren’t swinging at really good pitches,” Sczublewski said.

The Tigers got set down in order in the fourth and Sipple needed just four pitches to retire the side in the fifth.

Albert Lea got within a run after junior Connor Kortan got single after a 10-pitch at-bat and junior Aaron Klatt drove Kortan in with a double to left field. Klatt later scored on a double by junior J.T. Bellrichard to make it 4-3.

In the top of the seventh the Tigers made two errors and allowed the Rockets to score a valuable insurance run to push the lead to 5-3.

John Marshall senior Jordan Stokes led off the seventh inning with his fourth hit of the game and one batter later the Tigers committed back-to-back errors to eventually score Stokes. His run ended up being the game-winner.

Luke Grossman hit a solo homer to right field in the bottom of the seventh with two away to cut it to a one-run lead.

Albert Lea had seven hits in the game and stranded five base runners, including two in scoring position in the first inning.

Kortan finished 3-for-3 with an RBI and a run and Bellrichard went 2-for-3.

Klatt gave up seven hits in seven innings and allowed five runs, four earned, in his first loss of the season.

Albert Lea faces Austin Thursday in Austin.

John Marshall 5, Albert Lea 4

John Marshall 102 010 1 — 5 7 0

Albert Lea 100 002 1 — 4 7 3

WP—Jeff Sipple 5 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

LP—Aaron Klatt 7 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K