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Alexandria prepares for the playoffs

Mitch Thompson (right) celebrates with teammate Casey Hammerback after hitting a three-run home run in the first inning on Monday night. Alexandria lost the game to Brainerd 9-8 and finished the regular season schedule with a 22-10 record. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

The Alexandria Legion baseball team used its final game of the season against Brainerd Monday night as a tune up for the upcoming District Tournament starting this Thursday.

Alexandria used eight pitchers in the 9-8 loss to Brainerd, the final one for the team this season at Knute Nelson Ballpark, and focused on giving its hitters at least one at-bat.

“What we wanted to do was get everyone in the game, get them a couple of at-bats and let all of our pitchers throw,” head coach Jake Munsch said. “We haven’t played since last Thursday; just give us an opportunity to get the cobwebs off before Thursday.”

The district tournament begins for the team at 10 a.m. on Thursday against Thief River Falls in Perham. Alexandria was named the fourth seed in the tournament while Thief River Falls is the fifth seed.

Last year Alexandria won the district tournament to earn a spot at the state tournament in Eagan, something they would like to repeat this weekend.

“We were told that we had the hardest district last year and we won the whole thing, so we’re planning on doing that again,” said Mitch Thompson, who drove in four RBIs on Monday.

The pitching and defense have been strong all season for the Legion squad, and some improved offense in the second half has helped them finish strong. This has given the players added confidence heading into the postseason.

“We’ve got the pitching and we’ve got the hitting to do it all,” Travis Krueger said.

Thompson led the Alexandria offense on Monday by going 4-for-5 with a home run, four RBIs and three runs scored. Krueger also hit a home run in the game and drove in two runs. Parker Revering doubled three times on Monday, scoring two runs and driving in one.

Alexandria did not operate its offense like it normally does in the game, electing not to bunt or steal bases on most occasions. Instead Munsch was focused on getting his players the opportunity to swing away.

With a strong offense, Munsch feels Alexandria could be one of the teams to beat at the district tournament again this season.

“If we play like we have been playing, we’ll be contenders in it,” Munsch said. “That’s nothing against the other teams, they’re good teams. They are probably just as confident as we are.”

With eight different pitchers tossing at least one inning for Alexandria on Monday, Brainerd adjusted well in scoring nine runs. Blake Stockert, Parker Bowden and Krueger each allowed Brainerd runners to score while Danny Kuhn, Chris Leary and Thompson tossed shutout innings.

Munsch was happy to give the pitchers one more opportunity to throw before pressure increases in the playoffs.

“We played defense really well, there were some pitching mishaps, but that’s okay,” Munsch said. “Better here than there.”

Munsch has noticed the focus of the team continue to build as the summer has progressed. He is confident that Alexandria will be ready to defend the district title this weekend.

“This is a good group of kids,” Munsch said. “They are resilient, they want to win. Their intensity is picking up, so it’s been a lot of fun. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Alexandria finished with a 22-10 regular season record.