Albert Lea Legion’s comeback falls short against Rochester A’s

Published 10:01 pm Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Mason Hammer of the Albert Lea Legion hits the ball Tuesday against the Rochester A's at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Mason Hammer of the Albert Lea Legion hits the ball Tuesday against the Rochester A’s at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Despite a nine-run deficit headed into the bottom of the seventh inning, the Albert Lea Legion Post 56 baseball team clawed back and had a chance to win at the end.

Albert Lea’s seven-run rally ended with a bases-loaded strikeout, and the Rochester A’s held on to win 12-10 Tuesday at Hayek Field.

Wyatt Paulsen, who hit a solo home run in the second inning, said the team rallied behind the success of its younger players.

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“It was kind of surprising,” he said. “Coach (Jay) Enderson took some of the players out and put some others in so they could get some cuts. Then, Taylor Heavner got a hit. Tristin Muilenburg got a hit. They haven’t had the chance to get many hits this year, so that got everybody going.”

In the first inning, the A’s took a 1-0 lead, but Post 56 evened the score in the second with a lead-off solo shot over the right-field fence by Paulsen.

“It was a fastball down the middle,” he said. “It was (my) first one since sections last year.”

Albert Lea took a 2-1 lead in the same inning on a sacrifice by Parker Boyum.

After Albert Lea starting pitcher Tyler Steele held Rochester to one run through the first three innings, the A’s exploded in the top of the fourth inning with seven runs.

“Tyler had some tough luck,” coach Enderson said. “They hit him pretty hard, and we had those two errors that cost us three runs.”

A flyout in the bottom of the fourth by Albert Lea’s Makael Lunning near the warning track in left field scored Parker Mullenbach to cut Rochester’s lead to five runs, 8-3.

However, the A’s scored two runs in the fifth and two more in the sixth, while holding Albert Lea scoreless during that span to take a 12-3 lead.

Sam Moyer, who pitched in relief for the last two innings, held Rochester scoreless in the top of the seventh, and Albert Lea took the batter’s box with nine runs needed for a tie and 10 for the win.

Chris Enderson led off against Rochester’s second pitcher of the game by taking a base on balls.

“I made him throw a strike before I even swung because I knew he was a new pitcher,” Enderson said.

Tanner Bellrichard followed with a base hit, and Enderson scored on a line drive to right field by Jake Thompson. Parker Mullenbach loaded the bases with another walk, and Paulsen followed with an RBI single.

Makael Lunning cleared the bases with a hit to deep left center, but he was gunned down at third base for the second out.

Coach Enderson said Lunning has brushed off the rust since he started the season 0-11 at the plate. He’s now batting over .400.

With one out left, Albert Lea trailed 12-8. However, Post 56 wasn’t done.

Heavner came through with a base hit, Mason Hammer walked and Muilenburg loaded the bases with a hit to right field.

After Enderson was hit by a pitch to score Heavner, Bellrichard had another clutch hit to drive in Hammer.

Albert Lea trailed 12-10 and had the bases loaded. A double could have tied the game, and a triple could’ve won it.

However, Rochester’s pitcher stepped up and ended the game with a strikeout.

Next, Albert Lea (5-5 overall) will play a doubleheader starting at 5:30 p.m. at Winona.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: July 1 post.