Season ends for Albert Lea Legion

Published 1:20 am Saturday, July 25, 2015

Run support was in short supply at the end of the Albert Lea Legion Post 56 baseball team’s playoff run.

Jake Kilby’s seventh-inning two-run shot over the right-field fence scored Albert Lea’s only runs as the team was eliminated 12-2 by Winona Post 9 Friday in the District 1 consolation quarterfinals at John Adams Field in Rochester.

Post 56, the No. 2 seed in the eight-team tournament, ended the season with a 13-10 overall record. Winona was the No. 5 seed.

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Despite the loss, Albert Lea coach Jay Enderson said the experience gained bodes well for the future.

“The positives outweigh the negatives,” he said. “We had a lot of younger players stepping up and springboarding off a successful school-ball season.”

The team featured many of the same players from Albert Lea’s high school team that finished 14-12 — its most wins since 2011 — and qualified for the Section 2AA championship game.

After amassing 20 hits Thursday in the championship bracket semifinals against the Rochester Patriots, Post 56 was held to a fifth of that total against Winona.

Chris Enderson led Albert Lea at the plate by going 2-for-4 and scoring on Kilby’s homer. Mason Hammer produced Post 56’s other hit.

Taylor Heavner took the pitching loss. In 3 1/3 innings, he struck out one batter and allowed 11 hits and five walks. Sam Moyer entered the game in relief and went the rest of the way. He struck out three batters and allowed nine hits and one walk.

“Moyer kept us in the game a little bit,” Jay Enderson said. “He was a gamer that way.”

When Albert Lea played Winona in a twinbill during the regular season on June 21, Winona won 8-4 in Game 1, and Albert Lea won 10-0 in Game 2.

Jonathan Fleek, who hit a two-run home run and went 4-for-5 on Thursday, played his final game in a Post 56 uniform.

“Henry (Fleek) was a really positive influence for us this year,” Jay Enderson said. “They could all learn a lot from him.”

Fleek said he plans to return to Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, for his second year at the collegiate level. Last year, he produced 56 hits and had a .326 batting average, the fourth-best mark on the Panthers’ roster.

Nos. 2 through 4 in Albert Lea’s batting order — Fleek, Mason Hammer and Alex Bledsoe — combined to go 13-for-18 on Thursday at the plate. Hammer will return as a senior next year, and Bledsoe will be back as a junior.

“There are a lot of things to look forward to,” Jay Enderson said. “Our No. 1 challenge will be pitching and seeing who steps up and will perform.”