Owatonna’s Ethan Walter (4) slides in safely beyond the tag of Winona catcher Jaylen Vaughn on Wednesday night at Dartts Park. (Jon Weisbrod/People’s Press)

There’s no other way to put it: Wednesday wasn’t great, but it hasn’t always been like that for the Owatonna Legion baseball team this summer.

Sometimes they’ve been hot and sometimes they’be been, well, not.

At Dartts Park against the Winona Lejetz, the performance fell squarely into the latter category.

Sure, Post 77 pounded the ball and scored in four different innings, but the other three phases of the game — base running, pitching and defense — didn’t go quite as well.

When the dust finally settled and Winona finally stopped swinging the bats, the Lejetz had a 18-9 victory.

The loss came after Owatonna’s 6-2 setback to Rochester Century in their first game back from the Fourth of July break on Monday. Before that, Owatonna had manufactured some impressive wins and entered the holiday having captured the championship at the Mankato Tournament on Saturday, June 29. Post 77 finished 3-1 at the event and beat Prior Lake in the championship game.

After Wednesday, Post 77 drops to 7-5 overall and has three games remaining on the schedule before the postseason, two of which will be at home. On Sunday, they host Kasson at 7 p.m. before wrapping up the regular season with a home game against Faribault on Thursday, July 18 at 7 p.m.

Against Winona, things started well enough, but quickly deteriorated.

Thanks to a productive first inning that was highlighted by a two-run single by Ethan Rohman, Post 77 took a 4-1 lead into the second before Winona’s daunting offense exploded for five runs, all of which were unearned and came with two outs. Sam Nascak launched a 340-foot bomb over the left-centerfield fence to give his team a 6-4 lead.

Brody Bittle smashed a three-run home run in the middle of Winona’s four-run fourth inning as the Lejetz extended their advantage to 10-5. Bittle’s long ball also came with two outs and transpired one batter after a Winona runner was ruled safe at home on a call that could have gone either way. Had he been called out, the inning would have been over.

Despite trailing by a crooked number, Post 77 didn’t hang up their bats for good and came to life when pinch-hitter, Carter DeBus, turned on a fastball and poked a three-run home run over the fence in left field to draw Owatonna within 13-8 in the bottom of the sixth. The backup first baseman came into the game having seen just 14 plate appearances in six games this summer. During the high school season, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound starting offensive tackle on the football team saw just six at bats.

Owatonna, though, committed a pair of costly errors in the top of the seventh and Winona sent nine batters to the plate and added another five runs to stretch the lead back to double-digits at 18-8.

Isaac Gefre, who covered about 50 yards in the outfield and made a nice running catch to end the top of the fourth, finished 3-for-5 to pace Owatonna’s 9-hit attack. Rohman ended 2-for-5 with a pair of RBIs while Carson DeKam crushed a double in the sixth.

The Lejetz took advantage of five Post 77 errors and added 19 hits of their own, scoring at least four runs in three different frames.

Owatonna used two pitchers — Sam Henson and Jack Bellomy — and allowed 11 unearned runs.

Winona 18, Owatonna 9

WIN 150 403 5—18 19 0

OWA 401 003 1—9 9 5

Owatonna leading hitters: Carter DeBus 1-2 (HR, 3 RBI), Isaac Gefre 3-5, Ethan Rohman 2-5

Owatonna pitching: Sam Henson, L (4IP, 9H, 10R, 4ER, 3K, 3BB), Jackson Bellomy (3IP, 10H, 8R, 3ER, 1K, 1BB)

Reach sports editor Jon Weisbrod at 444-2375, or follow him on @OPPJonW

Award-winning Sports Editor for the Owatonna People's Press, Weisbrod has worked in daily newspapers his entire career. He writes a regular column called Beyond the Box that delves into local, regional and national sports storylines.

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