Walk-off single caps comeback

Published 10:35 pm Monday, July 13, 2015

Jake Kilby of the Albert Lea Legion Post 56 baseball team pitches Monday against Rochester Post 92 at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Jake Kilby of the Albert Lea Legion Post 56 baseball team pitches Monday against Rochester Post 92 at Hayek Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea takes down Rochester in extra innings to split doubleheader

Within the confines of a doubleheader, the Albert Lea Post 56 baseball team experienced peaks and valleys.

In Game 1, Rochester Post 92 beat Albert Lea 14-1 in six innings, but Post 56 rebounded in Game 2 by overcoming a 5-0 deficit with a 7-6 win in nine innings.

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“What could’ve been a bad night turned into a good night by getting a split,” said Albert Lea coach Jay Enderson. “This team never gives up.”

Post 56 never led in either game until Mason Hammer hit a grounder up the middle for a walk-off single that scored courtesy runner Sam Moyer in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 2.

“We started flat, but we always seem to find a way to come back,” said Hammer. “We’re never out of it. We battled until the end.”

In Game 1, Albert Lea trailed 7-1 in the fifth inning before Jake Dravis crushed a two-run home run over the left-field fence to give Rochester a double-digit lead that Post 56 wasn’t able to bounce back from.

Game 2 began in a similar vein. Post 92 built a five-run lead with three runs in the first and two in the second.

However, Albert Lea pitcher Jake Kilby found his groove in the third inning and held Rochester scoreless the next four innings, while Post 56 rallied.

Albert Lea scored all five of its runs before extra innings in the fourth inning. Alex Bledsoe scored on an error, a line-drive down the first-base line by Kilby scored Hammer and Chris Enderson and Jake Thompson’s two-RBI double tied the game.

In the top of the sixth, Post 92 loaded the bases, but Kilby got out of the inning unscathed with a flyout to Hammer in center field.

“That was huge,” Jay Enderson said. “(Kilby) pitched very, very well. He did exactly what he had to do because we could’ve been out of the game down five to nothing.”

Jonathan Fleek entered the game as Albert Lea’s closer in the top of the seventh and retired three straight Rochester batters.

Other than pitching once with the Austin Greyhounds this summer, Fleek said he hadn’t pitched since he played for Post 56 last year.

“I just had to get in there and throw some strikes,” he said.

In the bottom of the seventh, Albert Lea had a chance to win after Thompson made it to second base when Rochester’s center fielder lost a pop-up in the lights. However, after Fleek was intentionally walked, Post 56’s chance to score evaporated with a pair of flyouts and a groundout.

Neither team scored in the eighth.

Although Post 92 took the upper hand in the ninth, Albert Lea’s defense held Rochester to one run. Hammer made a catch in center field for the second out and rocketed the ball home to Zach Edwards, who made the inning-ending tag.

Post 56 needed two runs to win in the bottom of the ninth. Fleek hit a one-out double and scored on an Edwards single to set up Hammer’s walk-off single.

Next, Albert Lea (10-7, 7-4 District 1) will host Austin, the top team in the district. District standings are in the scoreboard.

Post 56 will finish the regular season with a doubleheader at 5 p.m. Friday at Rochester Mayo.

“It’s going to be a tough road,” Jay Enderson said.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: July 13 post.