Section 8AAA baseball: Cards walk off winners in opener
The Alexandria baseball team got a little magic with a walk-off winner in its opening game of the Section 8-3A tournament this past Monday.
The top-seeded Cardinals trailed 2-1 going to the bottom of the seventh before they rallied for a 3-2 win over ninth-seeded St. Michael-Albertville. Toby Helgeson delivered the deciding blow as his single to left field with two outs and two strikes brought home Grant Becker and Kaden Anderson to advance Alexandria into the winner's bracket.
Cody McLaughlin started the rally with a leadoff single in the seventh. Becker ran for him and stole second base and advanced to third after a ground ball by Patrick Leary was misplayed to put runners on first and third. Anderson ran for Leary and stole second to put both runners into scoring position. That set the table for Helgeson's heroics.
Alexandria battled back after trailing 2-0 after the second inning. It could have been worse, but Mitch Thompson completed a double play in the third when he caught a fly ball in center field and threw out a runner at the plate trying to tag. That would prove costly for the Knights as they failed to score after starting the inning with runners at the corners and nobody out.
Senior starter Beau Backhaus cruised after that. He retired 12 of the next 13 batters on his way to a complete-game victory. Backhaus allowed just four hits and the two runs to improve to 5-0 with a 2.25 ERA on the season.
Backhaus kept his team in the game until the offense got him some runs late. The Cardinals scored their first run in the sixth when Nick Knoblach and Thompson hit back-to-back doubles to left field.
The win set up a game with fourth-seeded Brainerd last night, Thursday, at Knute Nelson ballpark. The Cardinals beat the Warriors 3-1 on May 2 and 10-4 on May 21 during the regular season.
ST. MICHAEL-ALBERTVILLE 020 000 0 - 2 4 1
ALEXANDRIA 000 001 2 - 3 7 1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Backhaus - W, 7IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 1SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Knoblach - 2-3, 2B, 1 run; Thompson - 1-3, 2B, RBI; McLaughlin - 1-3; Parker Bowden - 1-3; Helgeson - 2-3, 2 RBI; Zach Peterson - 1-3; Becker - 1 run; Anderson - 1 run