Split leaves Albert Lea baseball in same spot

Published 2:40 am Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mankato East found a way to trip up the Albert Lea baseball team once again Tuesday to salvage a split with the Tigers in a doubleheader at Hayek Field in Albert Lea.

Last season the Cougars beat the Tigers 12-5 in Mankato and they nearly pulled off a sweep that would have knocked Albert Lea from the conference title race.

The Cougars played resiliently in both games and came through in the second game as they held off a late rally from the Tigers for a 5-4 victory after Albert Lea won the first game 4-3.

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“They started their year really slow and they’ve been very competitive all of the rest of the time,” said Tigers head coach Joe Sczublewski. “From the first third of the season they’re as tough as anybody in the league.”

Albert Lea missed a chance to pull even with conference leader Owatonna after the Huskies split their doubleheader with Mayo. The Tigers trail Owatonna by a half game and play a doubleheader Friday in Owatonna. Albert Lea needs to win its final three games to claim the title outright or win two of its final three for a share of the title.

Mankato East (6-8, 6-8 Big Nine) outhit the Tigers (13-4, 11-4 Big Nine) in both games, tallied 20 hits in the doubleheader, but left 24 runners on base.

The Cougars left the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings and had the tying run on third base in the top of the seventh in the first game before Tigers junior starter Aaron Klatt got Kyle Moret to groundout to second to end the game.

“They had us on the ropes several times and they were one hit away from breaking it open,” Sczublewski said.

Albert Lea senior Jordan Mondeel went 3-for-4 with a home run and scored two runs in the first game to pace Albert Lea. Luke Grossman hit a run-scoring double in the first and scored on Connor Kortan’s single to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead.

Jordan Cooper scored Klatt on a groundout to give Albert Lea a 3-0 lead in the third and Mondeel connected for a solo shot in the fourth to extend the lead to 4-0.

Mankato East got on the board in the fifth after Martin Fredrick drew a lead-off walk and Geiger hit a single to score Fredrick.

The Cougars made it a one-run game in the seventh when Adam Geiger hit a two-run homer.

Mankato East had the Tigers on the ropes in the first game and finally started landing shots in the second game.

The Tigers compounded their struggles in the second game by walking seven hitters.

“Seven walks and one hit batter, that’s a recipe for disaster against a good hitting team,” Sczublewski said.

Mankato East rallied from a 1-0 deficit in the second inning after back-to-back walks to start the inning came around to score and gave the Cougars a 2-1 lead.

Mankato East’s Seth Allan extended the lead to 4-1 with a two-run homer in the fifth. The Cougars loaded the bases in the sixth and Kyle Moret’s sacrifice fly proved the game winner.

Albert Lea had a play at the plate but the ball got away from Kortan.

Albert Lea rallied in the sixth when junior Cole Sorenson hit a two-run homer to draw the game to 5-4 and had two on with two outs in the seventh when Klatt popped out to end the game.

Albert Lea 4, Mankato East 3, Game 1

Mankato East 000 010 2 — 3 10 1

Albert Lea 201 100 x — 4 9 0

WP—Aaron Klatt 7 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 10 K

LP—Seth Allan 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

Mankato East 5, Albert Lea 4, Game 2

Mankato East 020 021 0 — 5 10 0

Albert Lea 100 012 0 — 4 8 1

WP—Griffan Kozitza 7 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 4 ER,

1 BB, 4 K

LP—Cole Sorenson 5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER,

3 BB, 8 K