Packers finish the Tigers’ baseball season in section tourney
AUSTIN — The Albert Lea baseball team traveled to Austin Wednesday evening to finish the Section 1AAA title game, which was postponed from the night before due to severe weather.
The Tigers needed two straight wins to advance to state thanks to an earlier loss in the tournament. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the second game would be unnecessary after falling to the Packers in the first game, 7-3.
In Tuesday night’s portion of the game, Albert Lea struggled to get baserunners through the first three innings. Senior Carter Simon was the only player to record a hit with a single in the first and senior Ian Ball was walked in the second.
Austin came out to a strong start, scoring three runs in the first inning on a single and three doubles. Austin added two more in the third before the game was suspended and eventually moved to Wednesday.
After a scoreless fourth inning to open Wednesday’s play, the Tigers cut into the lead with three runs in the fifth. Ball, senior Drake Dawson and sophomore Jack Jellinger scored the runs for the Tigers.
The Packers extended the lead again in the sixth inning with two more runs, putting the Tigers in a four-run deficit with just three outs remaining. Three quick outs in the seventh and final inning ended the game and the 2019 season for the Tigers.
The Tigers end the season with a record of 10-14.
“Hopefully, the 2019 team is seen as the start of a winning culture where players recognize that being a Tiger means a relentless desire to get better, a selfless attitude that places the team before themselves and a strong sense of integrity to do what is right not just when it is easy, but also when it is hard,” said head coach Sean Gaston. “If that happens, then the 2019 (team) has left behind an invaluable legacy to this program.”
Albert Lea put together an incredible run in the section playoffs, as the No. 4 seed beat the No. 3 seed Red Wing, the No. 2 seed Winona twice and Albert Lea’s two losses coming at the hands of No. 1 seed Austin.
“This section run has been a testament to the abilities of these boys when they believe in themselves and each other,” Gaston said. “When the pressure gets the greatest, you don’t perform at your talent, you perform at your level of belief. Hopefully, this attitude has been embraced by the younger players and they can put it to use in the future.”
The Tigers graduate nine seniors from the team as they will look to the future. Simon, Dawson, Jake Ball, Ian Ball, Carson Goodell, Brock Hammer, Parker Andersen, Dalton Larson and Isaac Moyer all played major roles on the team.
“Losing these seniors is a heavy loss to the program,” Gaston said. “There is a lot of baseball experience in those boys. That being said, I believe they have left a great gift to the program in that they have met the bar of competing for a championship. Now the expectation is to repeat that level and strive to win a section.”
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