Tigers win opener 5-3

Published 8:12 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Starting pitcher Aaron Klatt throws toward a Winona batter Tuesday during the second inning at Hayek Field. Klatt threw seven innings, striking out seven, and hit a solo home run in the fifth inning. -- Andrew Dyrdal/Albert Lea Tribune

Starting pitcher Aaron Klatt homered and struck out seven batters Tuesday as the Albert Lea Tigers baseball team opened its season with a 5-3 win over Winona at Hayek Field.

The Winhawks (0-1, 0-1 Big Nine) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning before Cole Sorenson hit a three-run triple in the bottom of the frame to pull the Tigers ahead 3-1. With the bases loaded, Sorenson hit a towering blast to left field that landed just fair. The Winhawks’ left fielder misplayed the ball and ran toward center field instead of the foul line. The center fielder chased down the ball instead as Sorenson slid easily into third.

The Winhawks tied the game at three in the top of the fifth before Cory Hansen led off the bottom of the inning with a solo home run to left field. Later in the fifth, Klatt backed his pitching performance with a solo homer to left-center putting the Tigers (1-0, 1-0) ahead 5-3.

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The Winhawks nearly rallied in the seventh putting two runners in scoring position with two outs. Klatt got the final batter to pop out to shortstop Ethan Abben.

Tigers coach Joe Sczublewski was happy with his team’s performance in their first game of the season.

“It was nice to come out and get a win right off the bat,” he said. “We made some correctable errors and baserunning mistakes that we need to improve on. But as the game went on, we were really hitting the ball well.”

Sczublewski complimented Klatt’s pitching performance and said he got stronger each inning.

“I’m looking forward to him having a big season for us,” Sczublewski said.

The Tigers’ Makael Lunning finished 2-for-3 with a double, and Abben finished 1-for-2 with two walks.

Josh Eisenbraun and J.T. Bellrichard also notched hits for Albert Lea.

The Tigers play next at 5 p.m. Thursday at Rochester Mayo Field against the defending Section 1AAA champion Spartans in their season opener. The Tigers return home Tuesday against Mankato West.

Albert Lea 5, Winona 2

Winona 100 020 0 — 3 6 1

Albert Lea 300 020 x — 5 8 3

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

LP — Hunter Gamoke 5 IP, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K