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Eric Morken, Echo Press Beetles' second baseman Will Fulmer pitched the ball to first baseman Rick Devereaux during an 8-5 win over Duluth last Wednesday.

Beetles baseball: Alexandria enters playoffs with league's best record

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The Alexandria Beetles wrapped up home field advantage throughout the playoffs with the best record in the Northwoods League after two wins in their final four regular season games.

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Alexandria dropped its final game of the season in an 8-3 game against Willmar on Sunday. That came after the Beetles beat St. Cloud 9-5 on Saturday and split a doubleheader with Duluth last Thursday. Friday's game against the Huskies was rained out and was not made up because it had no implication on the final standings.

The Beetles finished with the fifth most regular-season wins in Northwoods League history at 44-25. Their 28 wins in the second half eclipsed the old NWL record of 26 for the most victories in a half.

Alexandria was just trying to stay sharp with not much to play for over the final two games. Three regular position players pitched in the season finale as the Beetles attempted to save their arms for the postseason that started on Monday. Infielders Nick Gumm and Tanner Vavra and catcher Robert Case combined to throw three shutout innings.

"[Sunday] was just an example of us running low on arms and making a decision as to how we would play that," manager Matt Hancock said. "Our offense was pretty good. We had some good at-bats, put some runs up. The mentality was pretty much the same, which was good for not really having anything to play for the last couple of games."

Alexandria was able to remain focused against St. Cloud in a 9-5 win on Saturday. Rick Devereaux and Chad Bunting each had three RBIs, while Tanner Vavra went 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Gumm also had two hits and two runs scored out of the ninth spot in the order.

Kevin Vangheluwe picked up his eighth win of the season in the process. He worked a perfect 1 1/3 innings, striking out two along the way. Vangheluwe rebounded to post an 8-3 record after falling to 1-3 with his third straight loss in a game against Duluth on June 29.

The Beetles turned their attention to the opening round of the playoffs on Monday night. Even though they owned home-field advantage, they opened on the road at Mankato. The series was scheduled to return to Alexandria last night, Tuesday, before the Beetles would host a game three tonight, if necessary. First pitch would be at 7:05 with the Beetles' Matt Fyffe slated to take the hill against Mankato's Sam Selman.

GAME STATISTICS

ALEXANDRIA 011 000 100 - 3 8 2

WILLMAR 402 200 00X - 8 12 1

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Shawn Riesgraf - L, 1IP, 4H, 4R, 2ER, 0BB, 1SO; Mike Darley - 2IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 1SO; Drew Ghelfi - 2IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 2SO; Nick Gumm - 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO; Tanner Vavra - 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1SO; Robert Case - 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Ben Magsig - 1-2, 2B, 2 BB; Vavra - 0-4, BB; Rick Devereaux - 1-4; Chad Bunting - 1-4, 2B, 1 run; Mike Theofanopolous - 1-4; Mike LeViseur - 1-3; Gumm - 0-1; Will Fulmer - 1-3, RBI; Kevin Grove - 0-4; Robert Case - 2-4, 2 runs, RBI

ALEXANDRIA 002 141 010 - 9 12 0

ST. CLOUD 000 030 200 - 5 11 1

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Theofanopolous - 4 2/3IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 4SO; Vangheluwe - W, 1 1/3IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 2SO; Scott Sanderson - 2IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 1SO; Michael Schweiss - 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Magsig - 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, 2 runs; Vavra - 3-4, 2B, 2 runs, RBI; Devereaux - 1-3, 2B, 3 RBI, BB; Bunting - 1-4, HR, 1 run, 3 RBI; LeViseur - 1-5; Grove - 1-4, BB, 2 runs; Logan Bowers - 1-3, 2B, 2 BB, RBI; Case - 1-4, RBI; Gumm - 2-4, 2B, 2 runs

DULUTH 021 020 000 - 5 9 1

ALEXANDRIA 000 120 10X - 4 8 2

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Riesgraf - L, 2IP, 2H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 2SO; Darley - 2 2/3IP, 5H, 3R, 1ER, 1BB, 2SO; Ghelfi - 2 1/3IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 5SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Magsig - 1-2, 2 BB, 1 run, RBI; Vavra - 0-4; Fritts - 0-1; Bowers - 0-1, BB; Theofanopolous - 1-1, HR, 1 run, RBI; Bunting - 1-4; Devereaux - 0-2, BB; Jeremy Boyd - 1-3, HR, 1 run, RBI; Fulmer - 2-3; LeViseur - 1-3; Grove - 1-3, 1 runs

DULUTH 211 001 0 - 5 12 4

ALEXANDRIA 100 052 X - 8 9 0

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Casey Shiver - W, 6IP, 11H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 3SO; Bazzani - S, 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Magsig - 1-3, BB, 1 run; Vavra - 0-3, 3 runs; Devereaux - 2-4, 1 run; Bunting - 2-4, HR, 1 run, 3 RBI; Theofanopolous - 0-3; Grove - 1-3, 1 run; Bowers - 1-3, 1 run; Ricketts - 1-3, 2B, RBI; Gumm - 1-2, BB, RBI

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Eric Morken
Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
(320) 763-1229
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