Owatonna’s Ethan Rohman gets ready to take a swing against Stewartville on Tuesday night in an American Legion baseball game at Dartts Park. Rohman finished 2-for-4 and drove in both of Post 77’s runs. (Jon Weisbrod/People’s Press)

A trio of pitchers baffled Stewartville’s bats and Ethan Rohman came through at the plate as the Owatonna Legion Post 77 baseball team walked off a 2-1 winner late Tuesday night at Dartts Park.

Rohman finished 2-for-4 and drove in both of Owatonna’s runs, the second of which brought home Gefre from second base with one out in the bottom of the eighth. Gefre — who scored both of Post 77’s runs — reached after his cloud-scraping pop fly plopped to the grass on the infield after the second baseman misjudged the ball as it dropped from the sky.

Gefre quickly swiped second — his second steal of the game — and easily scored when Rohman’s hit pierced through the left centerfield gap.

“Slow fastball coming right down the middle,” Rohman said of the pitch he saw for the game-winning double. “I just had to pull it.”

Rohman served as Owatonna’s workhorse catcher during the high school season and was slated to essentially take the summer off from behind the plate. However, with Legion catcher, Zach Wiese, arriving in the fifth inning due to a prior obligation, Rohman crouched behind the plate for eight innings in the muggy conditions while managing three pitchers.

The incoming senior, though, credits his battery-mates for allowing him to conserve energy and save enough power for the plate.

“I mean I was catching three of the best pitchers we have,” Rohman said. “So there’s not much work back there. It’s just catching the ball and throwing it back. I was plenty rested to go up there and swing the bat.”

Abe Havelka, who hadn’t taken the field since breaking a bone in his foot in the late spring of 2018, earned the victory on the mound after entering with the score tied 1-1 in the top of the sixth. Overpowering the Stewartville lineup with a snappy fastball and a sharp curve, the current incoming sophomore at St. John’s University struck out five and did not allow a hit.

“I have been working with Brian Price the last week with bullpens and Tate (Cummins) has been working with me too, so I was feeling more comfortable,” said Havela, who was more nervous for his first at bat than his first pitch. “Tonight, the curveball was coming along a little better.”

Sam Henson started and was pulled after two solid innings. He allowed Stewartville’s only unearned run in the second inning and fanned three of the nine batters he faced.

VonRuden took the ball to start the third, lasted three lethally-efficient innings and struck out eight while allowing two hits.

Owatonna scored its first run in the fourth inning when Rohman launched a double to the fence in right field. Gefre — who had just broken up Stewartville’s no-hitter by chopping a single through the infield — motored all the way around from first and successfully avoided the tag at home by angling his body and sliding across the base feet first.

Owatonna is back in action on Thursday night against Faribault at roughly 7 p.m. The VFW team is slated to play at 5 p.m.

Owatonna 2, Stewartville 1 (8)

STEW 010 000 00—1 3 2

OWA 000 100 01—2 4 2

Owatonna leading hitters: Isaac Gefre 1-2 (2 R), Ethan Rohman 2-4 (2 2B, 2 RBI)

Owatonna pitching: Sam Henson (2IP, 1H, 1R, 0ER, 3K, 1BB), Willie VonRuden (3IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 7K, 0BB), Abe Havelka, W (3IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 6K, 0BB, 1HB)

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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