Albert Lea VFW tops Northfield

Published 8:11 pm Monday, June 23, 2014

Parker Mullenbach of the Albert Lea VFW Post 447 baseball team throws a pitch Monday against Northfield at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Parker Mullenbach of the Albert Lea VFW Post 447 baseball team throws a pitch Monday against Northfield at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Headed into the bottom of the seventh inning with the score tied, the Albert Lea VFW Post 447 baseball team needed a run to avoid extra innings.

Parker Boyum came through for Albert Lea with an RBI single — his fourth hit and third RBI of the game — to score Blake Simon and lift Post 447 to a 10-9 win Monday at Hayek Field.

Momentum swung to both dugouts, but Albert Lea didn’t let the game get out of hand.

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“If they got a few runs, then we’d get a few,” said Albert Lea coach Ed Bellrichard. “This team is that way. They like to support each other and battle back. It was a whale of a game.”

Albert Lea scored in five of the seven innings, including five runs in the fifth to erase a one-run deficit and build a four-run lead. Boyum, Alex Bledsoe and Sam Moyer led Albert Lea at the plate and combined for 11 hits. The trio also accumulated three doubles and eight RBIs.

“These guys are starting to hit the ball well,” coach Bellrichard said. “We had a lot of good swings and a lot of hard hits.”

Parker Mullenbach led Albert Lea from the mound in his third start of the season. He pitched five innings, struck out four batters and allowed eight hits, seven runs and four walks.

Mullenbach started on Albert Lea’s varsity baseball team this spring at first base.

“First base is my main position, but I like to pitch, too,” Mullenbach said.

Through the first three innings, the game’s only run was scored by Jake Thompson. He took a lead-off walk in the top of the first, stole second and scored on a single by Boyum.

Northfield fought back in the fourth by loading the bases with no outs and scoring four runs.

In the bottom of the inning, Albert Lea cut its deficit to one run, 4-3. Moyer led off with a triple. He scored on a hit by Bledsoe, and Bledsoe scored after tagging up when a shot to center field by Thompson was caught at the warning track.

After Mullenbach held Northfield scoreless in the top of the fifth, Albert Lea scored five runs in the bottom of the inning.

Mullenbach led off with a double to left field, and Albert Lea’s first four runs of the inning were scored with no outs.

In the top of the sixth, Mullenbach was on the home stretch with two outs and the bases empty, but Northfield loaded the bases and a run scored on a walk. Taylor Heavner took the mound in relief.

A sliding grab by Tanner Bellrichard in center field would’ve ended the inning, but the umpire ruled that the ball bounced before it was caught. Northfield scored two runs because the ball was not thrown to the infield, and Albert Lea’s lead was cut to one run, 8-7.

“We had what we thought was a good catch in center, but it didn’t work out,” coach Bellrichard said. “The umpire saw it differently. That’s the way it is. That was a huge play, and the umpires did a great job.”

Albert Lea pushed its lead to two runs in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs, Bledsoe beat the throw to first base to score Boyum.

The second pitching change of the game for Albert Lea came in the top of the seventh with two outs and runners on first and second. Northfield’s batter had a full count but was walked to load the bases. A two-RBI single by Chris Antoine tied the game.

Albert Lea’s Blake Simon led off the bottom of the seventh with a base hit. He advanced to third base on a double by Bellrichard and Boyum hit the game-winner.

Next, Albert Lea (11-3 overall) will start a doubleheader at 11 a.m. Sunday at Mantorville.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: June 23 post.