Alexandria baseball: Defense gets back on track against Big Lake
Playing solid defense was the main goal for the Alexandria baseball team after it lost a second round game of the Section 8AAA tournament to St. Cloud Tech last Monday.
This plan paid off on Thursday in a 6-2 victory against Big Lake. The Cardinals committed zero errors compared to Big Lake’s four, the main factor in the win for Alexandria at Knute Nelson Ballpark.
The game was much needed after the Cardinals committed four errors in its loss to St. Cloud Tech. Head coach Russ Hinrichs was pleased to see the defense return to solid play after working on it in practice.
“Today was a clean baseball game, which is what we needed to play to get the sour taste of Monday out of our system,” Hinrichs said. “I thought the kids responded very well, two good days of practice after Monday and back to playing Cardinal baseball.”
The Cardinals received some solid pitching on Thursday as Dan Kuhn pitched all seven innings, spreading five Big Lake hits for only two runs scored in the third and seventh innings. He also felt the strong defense as he picked up four strikeouts and only allowed five hits against the Hornets.
“I felt I pitched good,” Kuhn said. “They put the ball in play and the defense made plays.”
Alexandria got the scoring started in the first inning as Grant Toivonen and Toby Helgeson reached base at the top of the lineup with two singles. Mitch Thompson drove in one RBI with a sacrifice fly and Casey Hammerback drove in another with a two-out single.
Alexandria broke the game open in the third inning as three Big Lake errors helped them score three runs for a 5-1 lead. Thompson singled both Helgeson and Parker Revering for two RBIs in the inning.
Alexandria extended its lead to 6-1 in the fifth inning on a Zach Peterson sacrifice fly.
Thompson felt the Cardinals came ready to play on Thursday, and it showed with a higher quality of defense compared to Monday’s loss.
“Because most teams
capitalize on all the errors, just like the last game we played,” Thompson said. “That’s a perfect example of it. We played really well today, good defense.”
As they continue through the tournament, the Cardinals’ margin for error will shrink as the level of play for their opposition rises. Pitching and defense were the two main keys Alexandria was focusing on to stay alive in the tournament.
“Come ready to play, that’s all we need to do,” Hammerback said. “We’ve got good pitching so we’re good.”
Just as they did on Thursday, Hinrichs said the Cardinals needed to be prepared to play a strong seven innings in its Tuesday tournament game against Moorhead. The Cardinals headed into that day needing two victories to stay alive in tournament play.
“We talked about just winning every inning,” Hinrichs said. “Win every inning, make the little plays, and don’t try to do too much. We’re a good baseball team, if we just play the game the right way we’ll be fine.”
Alexandria started play at 11 a.m. on Tuesday against Moorhead at the MAC in St. Cloud. The winner of that game played again at 1 p.m. in St. Cloud for the chance to earn a spot in the section finals. Check the Echo Press website for updates on Tuesday’s section games in St. Cloud.
BIG LAKE – 001 000 1 – 2 5 4
ALEXANDRIA – 203 010 x – 6 10 0
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Dan Kuhn – W, 7IP, 2R, 2ER, 5H, 2BB, 4SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Grant Toivonen – 3-4, 2 runs; Toby Helgeson – 2-4, 2 runs; Parker Revering – 1-3, 2 runs, Sac; Mitch Thompson – 1-3, 3 RBIs, BB; Casey Hammerback – 1-4, RBI; Parker Bowden – 2-3; Zach Peterson – 0-1, RBI, 2BB; Cody McLaughlin – 0-2; Ben Kluver – 0-1; Travis Krueger – 0-2, BB