Scarlets hold off Tigers

Published 7:48 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Chris Enderson of Albert Lea throws a pitch Tuesday against Mankato West at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Chris Enderson of Albert Lea throws a pitch Tuesday against Mankato West at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

After Mankato West scored 12 or more runs in its first two games, the Albert Lea baseball team held the Scarlets to less than half of their season average.

Chris Enderson led the Tigers from the mound by allowing two hits through 6 1/3 innings, but Albert Lea couldn’t manufacture enough runs Tuesday in a 5-1 loss at Hayek Field.

“I think Chris pitched an excellent game,” said Albert Lea coach Joe Sczublewski. “We just need to get more at-bats, and we’ve got to swing a little more aggressively at the plate. We were a little tentative.”

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Enderson, a senior, said he knew what to expect from the Scarlets because he pitched against them last year.

“I just wanted to keep the ball low, have my defense help me out and make them make contact,” he said.

Although the hit count was down, Albert Lea had four errors, and Mankato West had none.

“We had to field a lot of balls,” Sczublewski said. “Sometimes the ball will take a funny hop and things’ll happen. You’ve got to make a lot of plays if you don’t strike out a lot of batters.”

Tristin Muilenburg entered the game in relief for 2/3 of an inning. He didn’t allow any hits, runs or walks.

E.J. Thomas, Wyatt Paulsen and Sam Moyer each had hits for the Tigers.

Thomas posted Albert Lea’s first hit in the bottom of the first inning. He singled and stole second with one out. However, Mankato West kept the game scoreless with a double play to end the inning.

After the Scarlets took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third and were held scoreless in the fourth, Paulsen hit a leadoff single to the left-field gap in the bottom of the inning. However, he was stranded.

In the bottom of the fifth, Moyer singled to the right-field gap and was driven in by Jake Thompson.

On defense, Thompson played shortstop and took over for All-Area Player of the Year, Johnathan Fleek, a graduated senior. In the top of the second inning, Thompson stirred up the dust in the infield as he dove to field a grounder and made the throw to first base to beat Mankato West’s runner.

“We made some really good plays in the field,” he said. “Jake Thompson made a couple of really nice plays at shortstop, and our outfielders covered a lot of ground.”

Albert Lea had a chance to cut its two-run deficit in half with two outs and runners on second and third, but a flyout ended the sixth inning.

After Mankato West extended its lead to four runs in the top of the seventh, the Tigers struck out twice, and the game ended on a groundout.

Next, Albert Lea (1-2 overall, 1-2 Big Nine) will play at 5 p.m. Thursday at Owatonna (2-1, 2-1 Big Nine). The Huskies are coming off an 8-3 win Tuesday at Faribault after a 10-5 home loss Saturday at Northfield.

The Tigers swept the Huskies two years ago, and the Huskies swept the Tigers last season.