Confidence soars through Gopher Classic
The Alexandria Legion baseball team ran into a good team from Napoleon, Ohio in the first game of the single-elimination championship bracket at the Gopher Classic and lost 8-0 on Monday.
That put an end to a strong run by Post 87 as they went 4-1 overall at the tournament, which featured 96 teams to start and was dwindled down to 16 on Monday. Napoleon jumped out to an early lead and never looked back against Alexandria, scoring eight runs in the first three innings.
“They were a good team and we didn’t play very good,” head coach Jake Munsch said. “We played the worst game that we played in the tournament. I feel if we played them 10 times we would beat them five times. We hit the ball hard, just right at them.”
Blake Stockert lasted just 1 2/3 innings in the outing as Napoleon got to him for six runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out one before Dan Kuhn came in and worked 2 1/3 innings. Kuhn allowed two runs, one earned, on three hits and three walks, while fanning one.
Alexandria had five hits in the game. Grant Toivonen, Toby Helgeson, Kris Setterstrom, Parker Revering and Casey Hammerback all had one apiece.
The loss ended Alexandria’s run, but didn’t take away from the kind of run it was. Post 87 beat teams from West Fargo, Giant Valley, Eagan and Stillwater to advance to the round of 16. All of them were competitive games that Alexandria found ways to win, many times by scoring in late-game situations.
“I can’t remember the last time Alexandria made it out of the pool,” Munsch said. “We did a lot of things right. We gained a lot of respect from a lot of people. We were told multiple times that we’re a good team. I think going forward we just have a goal to get to the state tournament. After this weekend, I think we have the team that can do it.”
There was a time this season when the prospects of that didn’t look so good. Alexandria was 6-8 after its fifth straight loss in a doubleheader sweep at the hands of Bemidji on June 25. Munsch challenged his guys at a practice after that and told them to think of it as a brand new season that went through the rest of the summer.
Post 87 rattled off the 12-game winning streak after that and started putting all facets of the game together. Their record now sits at 18-9 with less than a week left in the regular season.
“We’re confident,” Munsch said. “We come to the park expecting to win.”
Alexandria will have a busy week before the district playoffs open up next Thursday. Post 87 will go to Fargo for a game on Wednesday before returning home on Thursday for a doubleheader against Fergus Falls.
Munsch said they likely won’t go to Brainerd on Friday as scheduled. Their final regular-season game on the schedule is at home against Willmar in a nine-inning game on Monday. That’s a busy way to head into the playoffs, but Munsch said this group is excited to come to the ballpark after a successful weekend at the Gopher Classic.
“They’re pumped,” Munsch said. “They want to prove that they’re a good team. Whenever you play against bigger schools in the Cities, a lot of those teams don’t know where you’re from. Alexandria has a good baseball program and has for years. To get through to the top 16 teams is a great accomplishment that not a lot of teams get to say they did.”
ALEXANDRIA 000 00 – 0
NAPOLEON, OHIO 422 00 – 8
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Stockert – L, 1 2/3IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 1SO; Kuhn – 2 1/3IP, 3H, 2R, 1ER, 3BB, 1SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Mitch Thompson – 0-3; Toivonen – 1-3; Helgeson – 1-3; Setterstrom – 1-2; Revering – 1-2, BB; Parker Bowden – 0-2; Hammerback – 1-2; Travis Krueger – 0-2; Cody McLaughlin – 0-2