Albert Lea falls against Austin

Published 9:50 pm Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Albert Lea Legion Post 56's Zach Edwards hits the ball Tuesday against Austin Post 91 at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea Legion Post 56’s Zach Edwards hits the ball Tuesday against Austin Post 91 at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

An elusive strike zone perplexed the Albert Lea Legion Post 56 baseball team’s rotation.

Starting pitcher Chris Enderson loaded the bases with a walk before giving up a three-RBI triple in the second inning, and reliever Blake Simon walked multiple runs across home plate in the seventh Tuesday as Austin Post 91 beat Albert Lea 12-2 at Hayek Field.

In the fifth inning of its regular-season home finale, Post 56 trailed 5-2.

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“The bottom line is that we were still in the game at that point, but every time we got close, we’d (give up walks),” said Albert Lea coach Jay Enderson.

In six innings on the mound, Chris Enderson struck out five batters and gave up six hits, seven runs and eight walks.

Post 56’s Zach Edwards, Mason Hammer, Parker Mullenbach and Jake Kilby each had a hit.

After allowing three runs in the top of the second, Albert Lea fought back in the bottom of the inning with a two-out triple by Kilby to score Tanner Bellrichard.

Austin added a run in the top of the fourth, but Alex Bledsoe offset the score when he drove in Sam Moyer on a fielder’s choice to cut Post 56’s deficit to two runs, 4-2.

Although Simon struggled from the hill in the seventh, Jay Enderson said it was an opportunity to grow from adversity.

“Blake Simon is a guy who’s going to have to pitch next year, and he’s going to have to learn,” Jay Enderson said. “You’ve got to figure a way to get out of there.”

The last time Simon took the mound for Albert Lea was in a 3-2 win over Mankato National (West) on June 27 at the Mulvihill American Legion Baseball Tournament. Enderson said it was one of the best performances he’d ever seen from a sophomore.

Next, Albert Lea (10-8, 7-5 District 1) will play a doubleheader against the Rochester Redhawks (Mayo) at 5 p.m. Friday at Massey Field in Rochester.

In the standings released after Monday’s games, the Redhawks had only two district wins on the season. However, Jay Enderson said the team should not be underestimated.

“I know they’re 2-8, but they’re better than that,” he said. “These teams are all from Big Nine (Conference) schools, so you go in there and throw the best you can at them and see what happens.”

The top four teams in the district standings earn home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Albert Lea was third out of nine teams in the standings released Monday and will look to keep its spot with two games left in the regular season.

Winona was fourth in the standings at 7-5, and the Rochester Patriots were fifth at 5-5. Austin is a lock for the No. 1 seed at 12-2.