HRs push Tigers past Austin

Published 11:44 pm Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Albert Lea Tigers got power from their pitcher and a pinch-hitter and took advantage on an unraveling Austin pitching staff to beat the Packers 6-3 at Hayek Field Thursday.

The game began as a pitcher’s duel, as Austin’s Quinn Yocom and Albert Lea’s Jordan Cooper each gave up only three hits through the first three innings.

The Packers struck first in the bottom of the third, scoring on a Tiger error. In the bottom half of the inning, Cooper added to his pitching performance by hitting a home run to left field.

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Errors lead to more Packer runs in the top of the fourth, as Austin added two more, one earned.

Yocom and the Packers ran into trouble in the bottom half of the inning as Yocom walked the first two batters before leaving the game with an elbow injury.

The Austin relievers never seemed comfortable as the Tigers had two hits and walked four more times in the inning, taking the lead 5-3.

J.T. Bellrichard hit a double, scoring Colby Strilaeff and Carter Kortan. Corey Hansen hit an RBI single to left field, scoring Cooper.

Copper kept rolling on the mound, striking out four batters over the next two innings.

In the sixth, Jon Mittag hit a pinch-hit home run to left-center field, in relief of Hansen, for added insurance and Cooper sent Austin down 1-2-3 in the seventh to finish the complete game with eight strikeouts and two walks.

“Austin was never really on his it,” said coach Jack Kortan, of Cooper’s pitches. “He got his curveball and changed speeds on his fastball and that was key.”

Despite his impressive work on the mound, Cooper was arguably the offensive player of the game, too, going 1-for-2 with a home run, walk and a line drive hit right at the center fielder.

“I was seeing the ball really well tonight,” Cooper said. “When you have a good game batting it helps with your pitching, too.”

Mittag pinch-hit because he will miss the opening game of this upcoming weekend’s tournament. He made up for his absence with one swing Thursday.

“I wanted to get him one at bat,” Kortan said. “He hit the ball pretty hard.”

The Tigers will play again Friday at the Burnsville Snake Pit Tournament. Their opening game is against Woodbury Blue at 1:30 p.m. Aaron Klatt is scheduled to pitch.

Albert Lea 6, Austin 3

Austin 001 200 0 — 3 3 0

Albert Lea 001 401 x — 6 5 3

WP — Cooper, Jordan 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 3 BB

LP — Yocom, Quinn 3 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 2 K, 4 BB