Pitching still a strength
If the Alexandria baseball team wants to achieve its goal of winning a Central Lakes Conference title this season, pitching will likely need to continue being the team’s strength.
The team is anchored by top starting pitchers Blake Stockert and Parker Bowden, but last Friday’s doubleheader against Bemidji was an indication of the Cardinals’ deep pool of arms.
Jake Booth and Dan Kuhn made the starts for Alexandria in the doubleheader. Booth threw six innings and only allowed two earned runs, but he lost a pitching duel to Bemidji ace Ryan Hirt. Kuhn made the first varsity start of his career in game two, pitching 5 1/3 innings and allowing three earned runs.
Both pitchers know they are contributors to one of the better group of arms in the conference.
“I think this is the strongest staff I’ve been on,” Booth said.
Through five games this season, Cardinal pitchers have combined to allow an average of 1.8 runs per game. This has head coach Russ Hinrichs happy about the pitching he has on the roster.
“I think there’s no doubt,” Hinrichs said about pitching being the strength of the team. “I would be hard-pressed to find a better staff in the conference or in the section. We’re deep; we’ve got guys we haven’t used that we could pitch.”
The Alexandria staff has continued to be a strong point even after losing two quality starters last season. Beau Backhaus made seven starts for the Cardinals in 2013, going 5-0 with a 2.32 ERA. Nick Knoblauch served as the closer and also made four starts. He finished with a 4-1 record in seven total games with an ERA of 2.03.
The Cardinals still have plenty of pitchers who are capable of keeping hitters off balance.
Opposing batters have hardly been able to touch the ball against Stockert through two starts. He has 21 strikeouts in 10 innings of work and has yet to allow an earned run. Bowden was also dominant in his first start, throwing a complete game with one earned run and eight strikeouts.
With pitching being the strength for the Cardinals, hitting was on the mind of Hinrichs after the Cardinals’ doubleheader last Friday.
“We’ve got to get some of our hitters going,” he said. “We’ve got some guys that are scuffling right now, so we’ve got to get them going.”
If they can, the Cardinals could be right back where they were last year - competing for a conference title and with hopes of making a run in the section tournament.