8AAA baseball: Early miscues cost Alex in quarterfinals
Alexandria baseball coach Russ Hinrichs said on Monday that he thought coming into the season that St. Cloud Tech would be one of the best teams in Section 8AAA.
The Tigers were up and down throughout the regular season, entering the playoffs as a six seed with a 12-7 record. They proved in the section quarterfinals that they are too good of a team to not play sharp against.
Alexandria committed four errors in the first three innings on Monday and it cost the Cardinals in a 5-2 loss. That drops them to the loser’s bracket where they will play 10th-seeded Big Lake (7-13) with their season on the line on Thursday.
“I just thought they played better,” Hinrichs said of the Tigers on Monday. “They made the plays. They played an error-free game and we didn’t. In playoff baseball, you cannot make little mistakes like that. Teams are just too good, and the margin for error is just too small.”
The most damage came in the third inning when St. Cloud Tech scored the first three runs of the game. Two of those were unearned with the Cardinals committing three errors in the inning and two on one play.
With runners at first and third, senior catcher Mitch Thompson tried to throw out a runner at second on a stolen-base attempt. He overshot the bag and the ball bounced under the glove of the center fielder as the Tigers scored two runs on the play.
“Yeah, mostly mental errors,” Thompson said when asked about the defensive miscues after the game. “A couple throwing errors in the third inning just really got away from us. We were throwing the ball around, and we can’t be doing that. We have to stay more focused and come ready to play every day.”
Senior ace Blake Stockert got the start for Alexandria and took the loss in 5 1/3 innings. He had two throwing errors himself that came in the second and third inning and forced him to throw more pitches in the early going.
The Tigers made him work all night as Stockert came out with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth. Thompson got out of the jam by inducing two straight pop-ups. Stockert finished by allowing four runs, one earned, on six hits and four walks. He struck out six.
“I felt great,” Stockert said. “There was nothing really wrong. Like Mitch said, we just made a couple throwing errors, and we rarely ever make those. It’s playoff season and things happen like that. We just have to cope with it. Unfortunately, we lost this game, but I know we have no worries on Thursday.”
The Cardinals also struggled to square up pitches from Tech’s Sam Schoborg. The senior righthander wasn’t overpowering, but he hit his spots and held Alexandria to five hits. Grant Toivonen had one of those with an RBI double in the seventh, but Schoborg got Toby Helgeson to fly out near the warning track in the next at-bat to end the game.
“I really don’t think it was anything he was doing,” Stockert said. “It was just we didn’t come ready to hit. We usually spray the ball across the field and we just weren’t able to do that today, unfortunately.”
Both Stockert and Thompson said the team will be confident heading into their game against Big Lake on Thursday at 5 p.m. The Cardinals made things more difficult on themselves with the loss to Tech, but they believe in their ability to bounce back and fight their way through the loser’s bracket.
“We’re going to come ready and we’re going to beat that team," Stockert said. "I know we’re going to keep moving on. It was a little step that we missed here, but I have no worries."
ST. CLOUD TECH 003 001 1 – 5 8 0
ALEXANDRIA 000 100 1 – 2 5 5
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Stockert – L, 5 1/3IP, 6H, 4R, 1ER, 4BB, 6SO; Thompson – 1 2/3IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1 HB, 1SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Toivonen – 1-4, 2B, RBI; Helgeson – 1-4; Parker Revering – 1-4; Thomson – 2-3, 1 run; Parker Bowden – 0-2, Sac, RBI; Zach Peterson – BB; Cody McLaughlin – HBP; Casey Hammerback – BB, 1 run