Bass gets a much-needed strong start
Lubbock, Texas native Blake Bass gave the Alexandria Blue Anchors exactly what they needed on Monday night.
Mired in a nine-game losing streak, Alexandria was looking for a good start from its starting pitcher at home. That’s exactly what Bass gave the Blue Anchors as he earned his first win of the summer by going six strong innings in a 5-3 win over the St. Cloud Rox.
“I felt really good,” Bass said. “I had a good five days rest. My arm was feeling really good coming out, and I just tried to throw strikes and limit this good offense. I got some runs and that helped out big time and some good defense behind me too.”
Bass didn’t mess around on the mound. He worked quickly and threw strikes, which helped his defense play error-free baseball behind him. Bass allowed two runs on six hits and two walks, while striking out four.
Free passes have been an issue for this pitching staff all season. The Blue Anchors had issued 101 walks through 21 games after Monday night. That’s why Bass’ ability to make St. Cloud put the ball in play was a welcome relief for a team that is trying to lower a team ERA that sat at 6.65 after the win over the Rox.
“Today, he was in command of all his pitches,” manager Al Newman said of Bass. “He established his fastball and that’s most important. I think that’s been a shortcoming of our rotation so far is establishing the fastball and then you can use the off-speed when the hitters aren’t looking for it. He was very good with his fastball and he also used his split finger quite well.”
It was an important start for Bass after getting roughed up his last time out. He allowed six runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings against Thunder Bay on June 10. That left him with an ERA above 7.00, but his outing against the Rox is one he hopes to build on heading into his next appearance.
“It’s a big confidence booster,” Bass said. “I did struggle a little bit at the start of the season, but hopefully my next outings will be like this.”
LEUSCHKE OFF TO A FAST START
Alexandria’s Dalton Leuschke has gone from a temporary player for the Beetles in 2012 to one of the veterans on the Blue Anchors roster this summer.
The former Alexandria standout in high school seems to be getting more comfortable in now his third stint in the Northwoods League. Leuschke was Alexandria’s designated hitter during Monday’s win over St. Cloud, where he went 1-for-3 with an infield single.
Leuschke has worked his way into the lineup by taking advantage of his at-bats. He was hitting .366 after Monday’s game in 41 at-bats with nine RBIs, four doubles and five runs scored.
“He’s one of the veteran guys on this team,” Newman said. “I’m leaning on him and [Kris] Goodman and [Aaron] Gretz, guys that were here last year, to be the leaders on this team. He’s been quite productive at the plate and when a guy’s swinging the bat, you ride that hot bat. Dalton has performed well. His role here will be to occasionally play in the outfield and be my designated hitter and just be a team leader.”
FUNDAMENTAL PLAY PLEASES NEWMAN
The Blue Anchors ended their recent losing streak on Monday by playing well in all facets of the game, but maybe most importantly for Newman was the way they scored their runs.
Newman has talked about the importance of being good at the fundamentals from the day he took over in Alexandria. The Blue Anchors did just that on Monday night as they scored four of their five runs without the help of a hit.
Alexandria took its first lead in the fourth inning behind back-to-back RBI ground-outs from Aaron Gretz and Rickey Sanchez. Then in a 3-2 game in the sixth, the Blue Anchors added two insurance runs as Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly to right and Ryan Busch followed with an RBI ground-out.
Busch also had a solo home run in the fourth inning. Alexandria left five on base in the game but found a way to manufacture the runs necessary to earn the win.
“That made the win that much more special today,” Newman said. “The execution – move them over, get them in, a clutch home run. It was a beautiful game, and I’m glad one of our bigger crowds of the year got to see it.”