Anchors optimistic early on
Although the season started with a loss for the Blue Anchors at Knute Nelson Ballpark Tuesday, they feel the roster is strong enough to stay competitive in 2014.
The Blue Anchors lost the season’s first game 3-0 to the Mankato MoonDogs. Alexandria felt it had plenty of chances to win the game but was unable to cash in on opportunities with runners on base. The Blue Anchors picked up 12 hits and a walk while their three pitchers kept them in the game all night.
“These guys played very well, we just didn’t get that big hit,” manager Al Newman said. “That’s a good sign for me because I felt the pitching did an outstanding job.”
The MoonDogs collected one run in each of the first three innings off starting pitcher Zach Muckenhirn. Andrew Thome and Ryan Froom came on for the Blue Anchors after that and tossed seven scoreless innings in relief.
Although it was only one game in a season of 72, Newman liked what he saw from the Blue Anchors pitchers.
“We do have what looks like a better arsenal of pitches with the three guys that threw today,” Newman said. “The velocity was better than most of the guys last year, so that’s the exciting part.”
Four Blue Anchors had multiple hits in the game, with Ryan Busch leading the team with three singles. Alexandria’s Ben Allen had two hits in the game, as did Jason Shaul and cleanup hitter Ricky Sanchez.
“The Northwoods League is one of the best in the country, so I feel very privileged to be playing here,” Sanchez said. “My coach is the one who set it up, so I felt very lucky to have a place here.”
Allen, who just finished his freshman season at Des Moines Area Community College, was excited to be playing at Knute Nelson Ballpark after his years on the Cardinals baseball team.
“It’s awesome playing at home on the turf. I love it,” Allen said. “Home ballpark, short center field, can’t ask for much more.”
Newman said he was surprised the Blue Anchors were able to pick up 12 hits as most of the players had arrived over the weekend and had not yet participated in a team practice. Most of the team’s pitchers have arrived for the season, but many of the position players are still finishing up their college baseball seasons.
“We still have four or five guys that are going to be in our starting lineup that are not here,” Newman said. “But as far as the pitching is concerned, they are here.”
Most players in the Northwoods league have goals to improve their play against a high level of competition and hopefully gain some exposure from professional baseball teams.
Allen, who also played three games for the Blue Anchors last season, is looking forward to the opportunity to improve and pick up some victories in the process.
“Win some games, the rest will take care of itself,” Allen said. “I’m looking forward to playing against this competition. It’s great competition.”
As a native of Miami, Florida, Sanchez came to Alexandria for the opportunity to play in a strong summer collegiate baseball league. He also hopes to collect some memories of a winning season this summer.
“Obviously you want to get better, you want to get exposed,” Sanchez said. “I also want to make memories; I want to grow really tight with the group that I have here in Alexandria and win some games.”
MANKATO – 111 000 000 – 3 9 0
ALEXANDRIA – 000 000 000 – 0 12 1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Muckenhirn – L, 3IP, 5H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 3SO; Thome – 4IP, 3H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 7SO; Froom – 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 2SO
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – Ryan Busch – 3-5; Jason Shaul – 2-4; Roman Collins – 0-3, BB; Ricky Sanchez – 2-4, 2B; Alex Fink – 1-4; Brett Becker – 0-4; Dylan Dresel – 1-4; Anthony Mrosla – 1-4; Ben Allen – 2-4