Tigers baseball keeps momentum going with victory

Published 12:22 am Friday, April 30, 2010

The Albert Lea baseball team completed a 3-0 week and took a big step forward Thursday with a 5-3 victory against Winona at Hayek Field in Winona.

The Tigers (9-2, 8-2 Big Nine) made up for an earlier loss to the Winhawks where they blew a two-run lead in the seventh inning in an 8-7 loss with one of their most complete victories of the season.

Albert Lea got up 5-0 after the second inning and held on for the victory behind Aaron Klatt’s strong start on the mound.

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Klatt struck out 12 in seven innings of work and allowed just four hits. Winona got three runs off Klatt in the fourth inning, but just one was earned.

“It was a hard day to field the ball and 12 K’s on a windy day like this is huge,” said Tigers head coach Joe Sczublewski. “I told him early on his stuff was electric today.”

Through the first three innings Klatt was unhittable and faced two over the minimum. Klatt allowed his first hit in the fourth inning and the Winhawks (4-3, 3-3 Big Nine) pushed three runs across after the Tigers made three errors to keep the inning alive. But Klatt rebounded after giving up three runs and finished the inning by striking out the last two hitters.

“It was really good because the past two years I think they’ve gotten us over there so we knew we had to come over here and get them because they’re on top of the Big Nine just like us,” Klatt said. “Three wins this week was big for us.”

Klatt was the third Albert Lea starter to pitch a complete game this week.

The Tigers took a 4-0 lead after the first inning behind four consecutive two-out base hits, including RBI doubles from Connor Kortan, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and J.T. Bellrichard, who finished 1-for-2 with one RBI.

Kortan added an RBI single in the second to score Jordan Mondeel to give Albert Lea a 5-0 advantage.

“I think this was one of our biggest weeks,” Kortan said. “These next two weeks are going to be huge, too.”

Eleven games into the season last year the Tigers had an 8-3 record, but stumbled down the rest of the season and finished with an 11-9 regular season record. The next two weeks are critical for Albert Lea if it wants to win the conference. The Tigers face Mayo, Mankato West, Owatonna and John Marshall in the next two weeks — all had two conference losses entering Thursday — and will try to put to rest talk of being a poor late-season team.

“I think the guys are aware that we’re as good as anybody else and last year I don’t think they felt that way,” Sczublewski said. “They said they did, but it didn’t show up the second half of the year.”

Albert Lea faces Mayo Tuesday in Rochester.

Albert Lea 5, Winona 3

Winona 000 300 0 — 3 4 1

Albert Lea 410 000 x — 5 8 3

WP—Aaron Klatt 7 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K

LP—Kyle Kowalewski 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K