In a game you heard Tuesday evening on AM 1480 KAUS, the Austin Legion Post #91 baseball team played host to Albert Lea Post #56 at Marcusen Park in the regular season finale for both squads, and it was the strong pitching of Mike Olson and a four-run top of the third inning that keyed a 5-2 Albert Lea win.
Albert Lea used three singles in the top of the second inning to take a 1-0 lead, and they parlayed five hits, including an RBI single from second baseman Layton Yost, a two-out, two-RBI single from Olson, and a hit batsman with the bases loaded to score four runs to make the score 5-0. Austin broke through with their first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning when pitcher/first baseman Nick Robertson singled with one out. He then went to second on a walk to catcher Dakota Retterath and scored when cleanup hitter Jared Lillemon singled to make the score 5-1. Third baseman Sam Oelfke was hit by a pitch with two outs to load the bases, but Olson, who retired the first nine men he faced picked up a swinging strike three a batter later to get out of the jam with the score still 5-1 in favor of Albert Lea.
Peyton Ransom, who came in from shortstop to pitch for Austin in the top of the third was strong in relief the rest of the game as after giving up Olson’s two-RBI single, he yielded only one more hit the rest of the way and retired the last 10 batters he faced. Offensively, Austin stranded a runner at second in the bottom of the fifth and runners at the corners in the sixth inning before scoring their only other run of the game in the bottom of the seventh. With one out, centerfielder Bryce Fischer walked, went to third on back-to-back singles from Ransom and Robertson and scored when reliever Jacob Skinness got catcher Dakota Retterath to hit into a fielder’s choice for the second out. Skinness then induced a fly ball to left fielder Cooper Kermis a batter later to end the game.
Nick Robertson led Austin at the plate by going 2 for 3 with a run scored, Jared Lillemon was 1 for 4 with an RBI, and Peyton Ransom and Bryce Fischer picked up the other hits for Post #91 in the game. Robertson was tagged with the loss on the mound for Austin as he gave up the five Albert Lea runs on seven hits in 2 and 1/3rds of an inning, with all the runs being earned, striking out three and walking one. Ransom wound up pitching the last 5 and 2/3rds of an inning for Post #91 and gave up no runs on two hits, striking out eight and walking none. Mike Olson utilized a four-seam and a two-seam fastball, plus a curve to earn the win on the mound for Albert Lea as he pitched 6 and 1/3rds of an inning and gave up the two Austin runs, both earned, on five hits, striking out six, walking three and hitting three batters. Skinness retired both batters he faced in the bottom of the seventh to earn the save.
With the loss, Austin finishes at 4-5 in District 1 play, and they will be the No. 7 seed in the Sub-State Division 1 American Legion baseball tournament. Their most probable opponent in the quarterfinals will be Stewartville, with first pitch scheduled for Sunday at 5 p.m.