Beetles baseball: Second half run comes up short for Alexandria
The Alexandria Beetles put a scare into Willmar in the last two weeks of the season before the Stingers ultimately punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 21-13 second-half record.
The Beetles bounced back from a 13-22 record in the first half to finish the second half 20-15 after winning three of their final five games of the regular season. That left them 1.5 games back in their attempt to reach the postseason for the second straight season.
"I loved coming to the park with these guys," manager Drew Saberhagen said. "They competed. They had fun. They played the game the right way."
Ultimately, an offense that averaged 6.76 runs per game still wasn't enough to overcome a pitching staff that posted a team ERA of 6.46. That never allowed the Beetles to put together much consistency throughout the summer.
The Beetles set a Northwoods League record for the most walks in a single season with 375 free passes. They led the league in runs allowed (539) and earned runs (438) and hits allowed (731). Rochester had the second most earned runs allowed at 375.
"You got to be honest with yourself," Saberhagen said. "And the pitchers would probably tell you the same thing, that they just didn't get it done this summer. It was a consistency thing. We'd get one or two good efforts and then go back to allowing 10-12 runs on back-to-back nights...I think the pitching staff did get better in the second half, but when you walk that many people, it's going to make it hard on you."
On the other side, the Beetles were the best in the league at almost every major category. Alexandria hit .301 as a team and was first in runs scored (473), hits (746) and total bases (1,057). They finished the year with the league MVP in Ben Moore and the league's batting champion in Tanner Vavra. Vavra tied for that title with Duluth's James Ramsay after both players finished the season with .381 averages.
"There's no what-ifs," Saberhagen said when asked if he ever thinks of what this team could have done had the pitching been better. "Like I told the guys yesterday, this is my first head coaching experience and it's one I'll never forget. I definitely learned some things along the way, and I think I'm a better coach because of it."
It was the seventh summer Saberhagen has spent in Alexandria as either a player or apart of this coaching staff. His hope is to be back again next summer for his eighth season.
"I would absolutely love to be back and have the reigns again in 2013," he said. "I would love to come back and make another run at a Northwoods League championship."
ALEXANDRIA 300 020 000 - 5 7 2
DULUTH 201 000 010 - 4 7 2
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Scott Sanderson - W, 5IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 4BB, 4SO; Alex Guilford - 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1SO; Anthony Bazzani - S, 2IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Matt Lowenstein - 0-3, 2 BB, 2 runs; Josh Carpenter - 1-5; Moore - 2-3, 2 runs, BB; Robert Case - 1-5; John Loeffler - 1-3, HBP, BB, 1 run, 2 RBI; Dallas Hannah - 2-4, 2B, 3 RBI; Mike Morman - 0-3, BB; Ryan Padilla - 0-3, BB; Blake Barrow - 0-4
ALEXANDRIA 010 000 001 - 2 7 1
DULUTH 012 900 02X - 14 17 3
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Mitchel Babb - L, 3 1/3IP, 7H, 8R, 6ER, 2BB, 2SO; Corey Fitzgerald - 1 2/3IP, 5H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2SO; Michael Stocke - 3IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Vavra - 1-5, RBI; Carpenter - 2-5; Moore - 1-3, BB, 2B; Case - 1-4, 2B; Loeffler - 0-3, BB; Morman - 1-4; Hannah - 1-4, 1 run; Padilla - 0-4; Barrow - 0-2, 2 BB, 1 run
ROCHESTER 206 030 010 - 12 13 3
ALEXANDRIA003 000 (12)0X - 15 10 4
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Jon Reed - 5IP, 10H, 11R, 5ER, 1BB, 5SO; Stocke - W, 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 0SO; Guilford - 1IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 1SO; Bazzani - S, 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 3SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Lowenstein - 0-3, 2 BB, 3 runs; Vavra - 1-3, HR, 2 BB, 2 runs, 3 RBI; Moore - 1-5, 2 runs, RBI; Case - 2-5, 2B, 3 runs, 2 RBI; Loeffler - 2-4, 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Hannah - 1-4, BB, 1 run, RBI; Padilla - 2-4, HR, BB, 1 run, 4 RBI; Barrow - 0-3, 2 BB, 1 run; Carpenter - 1-3, BB, 1 run, HBP
ROCHESTER 031 000 313 - 11 13 2
ALEXANDRIA 201 000 000 - 3 6 1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Ali Simpson - L, 7IP, 9H, 7R, 6ER, 4BB, 4SO; Barrow - 2IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 1BB, 0SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Lowenstein - 2-4, 2B, 1 run; Vavra - 0-2, HBP, 1 run; Moore - 1-3, HR, BB, 1 run, 2 RBI; Case - 0-4; Hannah - 0-4; Loeffler - 1-3, BB; Morman - 1-4; Padilla - 1-3; Guerra - 0-1; Carpenter - 0-3
ROCHESTER 010 031 000 - 5 8 2
ALEXANDRIA 220 001 30X - 8 13 3
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Babb - 4IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 6SO; DeLee - 2IP, 4H, 4R, 2ER, 1BB, 1SO; Guilford - W, 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO; Bazzani - S, 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 2SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Lowenstein - 1-5, 1 run; Vavra - 3-3, HBP, 2 runs; Moore - 2-5, HR, 2 runs, 4 RBI; Morman - 2-4, 1 run, 2B; Loeffler - 1-3, BB, 1 run, RBI; Hannah - 1-3, HBP; Guerra - 1-4, RBI; Barrow - 0-4; Carpenter - 2-4, 1 run, RBI