Legion baseball: Alexandria earns runner-up honors at Red River Diamond tournamentThe team used wins over Perham, West Fargo and Moorhead to advance to the championship
The Red River Diamond Tournament in Fargo, North Dakota is always a challenge, but the Alexandria Post 87 Legion team proved more than capable of living up to that challenge, bringing home runner-up honors from the weekend tournament.
“The team had a very nice weekend of baseball and took home a second place finish,” said head coach Kevin Engebretson. “The team picked up wins over Perham, West Fargo and Moorhead, while dropping games to Jamestown and Bismarck.
“Overall, it was an extremely solid weekend of baseball for the guys, as they got a chance to compete against some very talented competition and had fun doing it.
“Pitching and defense were once again awesome,” he added, “and offensively, the hitters were able to come up with several big hits in the clutch.”
In five games, Alexandria committed just three errors in the field.
The start to the tournament for Alexandria was definitely not what Engebretson was looking for as his squad fell 4-1.
“Post 87 bats remained cold for game one as they were only able to get two hits in the game,” he said. “Nate Nelson and reliever Nick Knoblach threw well enough to give their team a chance to win, but it was not to be.”
Nelson went four and a third innings, allowing four earned runs on nine hits and no walks. He struck out two.
Knoblach threw the final one and two-thirds frames, giving up just two hits and a walk.
“Collecting the only hits for Alexandria were Chris Vogeler and Eric Carlsen,” said Engebretson, “with Carlsen driving in the lone run on a line drive double to the gap.
“The defense was solid enough to win as the guys did not commit a single error, but you’ve gotta score some runs to win games.”
ALEXANDRIA 3, PERHAM 2
Alexandria used a final inning rally for a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Perham in game two to keep the team’s hopes alive for a spot in the championship.
“The hitting was once again unimpressive overall, but they were able to pitch, play defense and rally in the final inning,” said Engebretson.
Alexandria got on the board in the first inning as a sacrifice fly by Dalton Leuschke drove in Parker Giroux. Giroux and Vogeler both singled and advanced on a double steal to put the runners in scoring position.
It wasn’t until the fourth that Perham scored a pair to take the lead, using a couple of hits and a fielding error, but Alexandria used their last chance at bat wisely.
“Chris Curry led off the bottom of the seventh with a beautiful base hit bunt,” said Engebretson. “He then got himself into scoring position by stealing both second and third base.
“Aaron Billberg followed with a walk and a stolen base, putting runners at second and third,” he continued. “Nick Knoblach then came through with a very clutch RBI single to right, scoring Curry to tie the game at 2-2 with no outs.”
From there, Vogeler loaded the bases with a walk and it was Giroux who took one for the team, getting hit by a pitch to score the winning run.
“Just five hits got it done for Alexandria, but they were able to finally get it done in the clutch,” noted the coach.
Knoblach had two singles, one RBI and a sacrifice bunt to lead the team, with Vogeler, Giroux and Curry getting one hit each.
Shawn Krueger, who plays for Concordia College, started for the Legion on his home Cobber field, going the complete game for the win. He allowed seven hits and no earned runs, walking one and striking out six.
ALEXANDRIA 5, WEST FARGO 2
“Alexandria put together its best game of the summer on Friday afternoon as it beat a very talented team from West Fargo,” Engebretson said of Post 87’s 5-2 win. “The defense also remains outstanding as the guys did not commit a singe error in the game.”
AJ Anderson took the hill for Alexandria, shutting down a West Fargo team that recently took second place in North Dakota’s big-class state tournament.
“Anderson was dealing into the sixth inning, mixing his pitches very well and keeping the hitters off balance,” said Engebretson. “He did run into a bit of trouble in the sixth, as a hit batter and three consecutive walks led to a run, but Nick Knoblach came in and minimized the damage, doing a fantastic job and picking up the save.”
Anderson went five and a third, allowing two earned runs on just one hit while walking five and striking out four.
Knoblach took the final one and two-thirds innings, allowing just one hit.
Two-run singles by Vogeler and Erich Murphy in the second and fifth innings were all Alexandria needed for the win.
Murphy had two hits and two RBIs in the game, while Vogeler, Leuschke, Jordan Domine and Chris Curry had one hit each.
“Curry had another awesome bunt single, which led to one of our big two-out rallies,” said Engebretson.
ALEXANDRIA 12, MOORHEAD 3
Post 87 pounded out 15 hits en route to a 12-3 win over Moorhead Saturday night to move them into the championship game against Bismarck, ND on Sunday.
“Alexandria wreaked havoc on the base paths, forcing Moorhead to commit seven errors in the game,” said Alexandria’s coach. “That was more than enough help for starting pitcher Beau Backhaus as he picked up his first career Legion victory.
“Backhaus mixed up his pitches beautifully and kept the Moorhead hitters guessing all night long.”
Backhaus went the distance, allowing three earned runs on eight hits, one walk and two strikeouts.
It was also another flawless night for the defense, which did not commit a single error.
“Dalton Leuschke made some superb plays at short, stopping any Moorhead rally attempts throughout the game,” Engebretson said.
Curry led all hitters with four singles, two on bunts, while Giroux had three hits to drive in two runs, scoring four times and picking up a pair of walks.
Leuschke and Knoblach each had two hits, with Carlsen and Nelson hitting singles. Domine drove in two runs in the win.
“This was our best game to date, and it all just came together,” said Engebretson. “Pitching and defense remained terrific, and our bats finally found some pop.”
BISMARCK 12, ALEXANDRIA 3
Alexandria experienced the other side of a 12-3 game, falling to Bismarck, ND in the championship on Sunday.
“Bismarck was loaded with good hitters all the way through the lineup,” said the Legion coach, “and Post 87 was unable to keep up offensively.
“They did have some terrific scoring chances throughout the game, but three inning-ending double plays with the bases loaded made it tough to stay in it in the end.”
Knoblach, Curry and Billberg all saw time on the mound for Alexandria, with Curry picking up the loss in relief as the pitching staff gave up 19 hits to Bismarck.
Vogeler and Leuschke had two hits each, with Leuschke driving in a run. Carlsen, Giroux and Nelson each had one hit.
Alexandria now travels to Omaha, Nebraska for the Decker Sports College World Series Legion Baseball Tournament where the team will take in some College World Series games, and compete against teams from Omaha; Lincoln, Nebraska; Denver, Colorado and Walton, Indiana.
ALEXANDRIA 100 000 0 1-2-0
JAMESTOWN, ND 000 220 X 4-11-1
PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – Nate Nelson (L) 4.1-4-4-9-0-2; Chris Knoblach 1.2-00-0-2-1-0.
HITTING – Chris Vogeler 1-2, 1 run, 1 bb; Eric Carlsen 1-2, 2b, 1 rbi, 1bb; Chris Curry 1 bb.
PERHAM 000 200 0 2-7-1
ALEXANDRIA 100 000 2 3-5-1
PITCHING – Shawn Krueger (W) 7-2-0-7-1-6.
HITTING – Vogeler 1-2, 1 run, 2 bb; Aaron Billberg 1 run, 1 bb; Dalton Leuschke 1 rbi; Parker Giroux 1-3, 1 rbi; Curry 1-3, 1 run; Gideon Burnham 2 bb; Knoblach 2-2, 1 rbi.
ALEXANDRIA 021 020 0 5-6-0
WEST FARGO 000 002 0 2-2-1
PITCHING – AJ Anderson (W) 5.1-2-2-1-5-4; Knoblach (S) 1.2-0-0-1-0-0.
HITTING – Vogeler 1-4, 2 rbi, 1 bb; Billberg 1 bb; Leuschke 1-2, 1 run, 2 bb; Carlsen 1 run, 2 bb; Jordan Domine 1-4, 1 run, 1 rbi; Giroux 1 bb; Erich Murphy 2-3, 1 run, 2 rbi; Curry 1-1, 1 run, 3 bb.
ALEXANDRIA 301 042 2 12-15-0
MOORHEAD 010 000 2 3-8-7
PITCHING – Beau Backhaus (W) 7-3-3-8-1-2.
HITTING – Vogeler 2-5, 2 runs, 2b; Billberg 1 bb; Leuschke 2-5, 3 runs, 2 rbi, 1 bb; Carlsen 1-3, 1 run, 1 rbi, 1 bb; Domine 2 rbi; Curry 4-5, 1 run; Burnham 1 rbi; Knoblach 2-4, 1 rbi; Nate Nelson 1-1, 1 run.
ALEXANDRIA 002 010 0 3-7-2
BISMARCK 202 530 X 12-19-1
PITCHING – Knoblach 2-2-2-4-1-0; Curry (L) 1.1-6-5-7-1-0; Billberg 2.2-4-4-8-1-2.
HITTING – Vogeler 2-4, 2 runs, Billberg 1 run, 2 bb; Leuschke 2-2, 1 rbi, 1 bb; Carlsen 1-1, 1 rbi, 2 bb; Luc Beireis 1 rbi, 2 bb; Giroux 1-2; Nelson 1-1.