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Strong pitching earns title

Alexandria VFW 15s pitcher Brock Anderson throws during the game against the Alexandria VFW 16s at Knute Nelson Ballpark last Wednesday. Anderson had 13 strikeouts in the game to help secure the win. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

It’s not often in youth baseball when the team with the younger roster can find a way to defeat the older kids.

But with a strong arm on the mound, the Alexandria VFW 15s defeated the older VFW 16s 3-2 last Wednesday to claim first place in the regular season district standings. Brock Anderson was the difference in the game as he went six innings and allowed only two runs on one hit with 13 strikeouts.

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“He looked very good,” VFW 16s head coach Parker Giroux said. “For being a lefty and throwing that hard, it’s tough at this age to hit a fastball that’s that fast and a curveball that’s that good.”

Henry Wirtjes also had a good day on the mound for the VFW 16s. He went seven innings and only allowed three runs on five hits with eight strikeouts, but the team’s offense could not break the game open against Anderson.

“If we would have hit the ball better, the game would have been a way different story,” Wirtjes said.

The 15s grabbed a 2-0 lead after the first inning behind a two-run double from Hunter Schoenrock. Anderson struck out the side in the first three innings, but said he actually felt stronger as the game progressed.

“I felt all right,” Anderson said. “I got my curveball down; I started throwing strikes later in the game.”

The VFW 16s finally broke through in the fourth inning after Anderson walked Noah Hittle and Cole McLaughlin to start the inning. Wyatt Wittenburg drove both of the runners in with a single, the only hit of the day for the VFW 16s.

The VFW 15s retook the lead for good in the sixth inning after Jake Drew reached on a single and stole second base. Then Schoenrock picked up his third to give the VFW 15s a 3-2 lead.

Anderson pitched a scoreless bottom of the sixth inning, and Drew came in to convert a save opportunity in the seventh for the VFW 15s victory.

“It was good for them to come out and show them what they’ve got and show that older kids don’t always win,” VFW 15s coach Beau Backhaus said.

The VFW 16s got some revenge on the VFW 15s in the second game with a 1-0 victory in five innings. Only the first game counts toward the league standings.

Jack Nettleton scored the only run of the game on an RBI groundout by Broderick Nelson in the fifth inning.

Cole McLaughlin, Henry Waage and Quinn Gibson pitched one scoreless inning each for the VFW 16s, and Jared Gessel tossed two scoreless innings.

Micah Christenson pitched one scoreless inning for the VFW 15s, and Brady Burgau tossed three innings and allowed only one unearned run.


The district playoffs were scheduled to start yesterday, Tuesday, after the seeds were decided last week.

The VFW 15s finished in first place in the district behind a pitching staff that has the team confident heading into the playoffs.

“Our pitching is unreal, hitting is coming around,” Backhaus said. “The hitting was kind of slow at the beginning of the season. When we hit and play defense, our pitching is always there. We’re going to win some games.”

Giroux also expects his squad to have as good of chance as any to win the upcoming tournament.

“Just come ready to play,” he said. “I think with our roster and everything, and our pitching staff and our hitting, I think we’ll be all right.”