Gallery: Late run lifts Albert Lea Legion past Austin

Published 9:15 pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tyler Steele of the Albert Lea Legion baseball team throws a pitch Tuesday against Austin at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Tyler Steele of the Albert Lea Legion baseball team throws a pitch Tuesday against Austin at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

A line drive to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning sealed a come-from-behind win for the Albert Lea Legion Post 56 baseball team.

Albert Lea’s Parker Mullenbach delivered the blow to drive in Johnathan Fleek for the go-ahead run Tuesday against Austin Post 91 at Hayek Field.

“That’s what baseball’s all about,” said Albert Lea coach Jay Enderson. “You come through in the clutch, and it’s not always your lead-off batter.”

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Both teams knocked the ball around the park. Albert Lea had 12 hits, and Austin had 10. Austin’s Jacob Kempen hit a 2-run shot over the left-field fence in the top of the third, and Albert Lea’s Parker Boyum hit a carbon copy in the next inning.

Albert Lea’s Tyler Steele took the win on the mound. He went the distance with 74 pitches, struck out one batter and allowed 10 hits, five earned runs and a walk.

After Austin scored a run in the first, another in the second and four in the third, Steele found his groove and held Post 91 scoreless in the last four innings.

“What we were doing (in the first three innings) wasn’t working, so we (Steele and Boyum) talked about it and got on the right page,” Steele said. “After that first shutout inning, I gained some confidence for the rest of the game.”

Steele is 2-0 this season. His other start was a 9-2 win at Owatonna.

“The Owatonna game was a step, and now this is another step,” Enderson said. “He may be a senior next year, but he’s still learning how to pitch, and he’s getting better.”

Albert Lea took its first lead against Austin, 3-2, with two runs in the bottom of the second. A double by Makael Lunning that reached the warning track in center field scored Kole Smith, and Lunning crossed home plate when he tagged up from third base on a deep fly-out by Sam Moyer.

However, Kempen’s home run in the third propelled Austin to the biggest lead either team had, 6-3.

Albert Lea’s answer in the fourth was sparked by Lunning. He beat the throw to first base for a single, stole second and scored on a double by E.J. Thomas with two outs. Thomas scored on the two-run home run by Boyum.

“It was a fastball down and inside,” Boyum said. “That’s where I like it, and I was able to hit that pitch pretty well.”

In the top of the fifth, Albert Lea was able to keep Austin off the board with strong play in the outfield, including a diving grab in right field by Lunning.

“If we can put the ball in play, defensively we’re as good or better than most teams,” Enderson said.

After scoreless fifth and sixth innings for both teams, the seventh inning arrived with the score tied 6-6.

A grab in left center by Wyatt Paulsen for the final out of the top of the seventh gave Albert Lea a chance to win with one run in the bottom.

Fleek hit a lead-off double that bounced off the center field fence, Paulsen reached first base on a balk, and Mullenbach’s liner to left field scored Fleek.

Albert Lea and Austin met in the season opener June 12, and Austin won 8-3.

Next, Albert Lea (3-3) will host the Rochester Redhawks in a doubleheader that starts at 6 p.m. tonight. Post 56 is on a two-game winning streak.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: June 24 post.