Albert Lea Legion only fields half of team at Winona

Published 2:09 am Monday, July 28, 2014

Controversy put a cloud on an otherwise successful season for the Albert Lea Legion Post 56 baseball team.

After Winona slipped past Albert Lea 6-5 in the first round of the District 1 tournament on Tuesday, Albert Lea fell to the consolation bracket. However, Post 56 reeled off wins over Kasson and the Rochester Patriots on Friday to get to the consolation semifinals and a rematch with Winona.

Albert Lea’s season ended with a 9-1 loss Saturday against Winona at Winona State University.

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Post 56 only fielded half of its lineup because the VFW baseball tournament was at the same time, and infielder E.J. Thomas was out with an injury.

“We had 18 guys in our dugout the first time (against Winona on Wednesday), and we had nine on Saturday due to the fact that they overlapped our tournaments,” said Albert Lea coach Jay Enderson. “It was a scheduling blunder. Nobody was willing to work with me from Austin (the VFW tournament host site). A couple scheduling changes and it could have worked.”

Albert Lea led 1-0 in the first inning before Winona scored nine unanswered runs.

Jake Thompson, Wyatt Paulsen and Makael Lunning led Post 56 at the plate. However, the bottom four batters in the order were a combined 0-14.

Tristin Muilenburg, Lunning, Paulsen and Johnathan Fleek split time on the mound.

Albert Lea finished the season with an 11-10 record, and Enderson said he saw improvement across the board.

“The future looks very bright for Albert Lea baseball because of the work they put in,” he said. “It was a positive experience for everybody.”