Tigers fall in section finals
Published 5:13 pm Saturday, May 30, 2015
ST. PETER — An early lead dissolved in the fourth inning, and the Albert Lea baseball team fell to the consolation bracket.
Parker Mullenbach’s RBI double in the bottom of the first started a string of three unanswered runs, but seven runs in the fourth lifted Glencoe-Silver Lake past the Tigers 10-8 Saturday in the Section 2AA finals at St. Peter.
To go with eight runs, Albert Lea (13-11, 4-7 Big Nine) had 10 hits. Glencoe-Silver Lake only gave up more than six runs three times earlier this season. Each time the Panthers lost. Glencoe-Silver Lake gave up eight runs in their last five games combined.
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“We hit the ball very well all day long, and we had our chances,” said Albert Lea coach Joe Sczublewski.
Mullenbach, Parker Boyum and Mason Hammer led the Tigers with two hits each.
Despite giving up nine runs combined in the fourth and fifth innings, Albert Lea rallied in the bottom of the sixth to cut its deficit in half, 10-8. Tanner Bellrichard hit a lead-off double, Jake Thompson walked and Mullenbach smashed a two-RBI double to deep left center.
After holding the Panthers scoreless in the top of the seventh, the Tigers’ rally fell short against closer Tanner Grack.
Albert Lea pitcher Tyler Steele took the loss on the hill after 3 2/3 innings. He gave up six hits and four runs through 3 2/3 innings.
For the last out of the fourth, Sczublewski called Jake Kilby from the bullpen. After the Panthers scored three runs on walks, Tristin Muilenburg entered the game was able to end the fourth and close out the last three innings. He held Glencoe-Silver Lake to three hits and two earned runs.
“We planned on having some guys come in to give them some different looks,” Sczublewski said. “Muilenburg kept them at bay, but then we just couldn’t drive in enough (runs).”
Although the Tigers gave up two runs in the top of the fifth, Albert Lea’s infield shined. With one out, Thompson fielded the ball at shortstop and flipped it to Boyum at second base for the second out. Boyum threw it to Mullenbach at first, but the runner beat the throw. Mullenbach noticed the Panthers’ baserunner at third was about to score, so he tossed the ball to catcher Chris Enderson, who threw it to third baseman Alex Bledsoe, who ended the inning with a tag in a rundown.
“We executed a weird double play to get us out of a jam,” Sczublewski said.
Next, Albert Lea will play the winner of the Section 2AA consolation bracket semifinal between Norwood Young America (16-7, 10-4 Minnesota River) and Belle Plaine (16-7, 11-3 Minnesota River).
The consolation bracket semifinal will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday at St. Peter, and the consolation bracket final will be less than three hours later at 7:30 p.m.
The winner of the consolation bracket final will advance to play Glencoe-Silver Lake at 5 p.m. Thursday. The Panthers will need to defeat the winner of the consolation bracket once to advance to state, and the winner of the consolation bracket will need to beat Glencoe-Silver Lake twice to advance.