District 7 playoffs: Alex Legion season endsWillmar and Litchfield handed Alexandria losses as Willmar went on to claim the title
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
The Alexandria Post 87 Legion baseball team found out firsthand how fleeting momentum can be in baseball in the District 7 Tournament late last week.
One day after scoring 24 runs in a rout of Marshall, Alexandria dropped back-to-back games to Litchfield and Willmar as its season came to an end at Knute Nelson Field on Friday night.
“We just didn’t quite play well enough to pull it off,” head coach Kevin Engebretson said. “Unfortunately, sometimes that happens in baseball. You can be hot one day and cold the next.”
Post 87 could not rebound from a tough 9-7 loss to Litchfield in the semifinals. They took the field again just minutes later and went out quietly in a 10-1 loss to Willmar.
Willmar took control with eight runs through the first four innings as Post 87 trailed by four before ever stepping into the batter’s box. They could never recover as they finished with just five hits in the game.
“Maybe our guys were out of gas after a couple of long nine-inning games,” Engebretson said. “But you can always try to dig deep and find it. It just didn’t work out for us.”
Eric Carlsen did his part to give Alexandria a chance. His solo home run to center in the second accounted for his team’s only run. He finished the summer by reaching base three times on a walk and two hits. Chris Vogeler, Aaron Billberg and Jordan Domine added a hit apiece.
It was a stark contrast to the offensive firepower Alexandria displayed in its previous two games. Unfortunately for Post 87, Litchfield matched that in a back-and-forth game in the semifinals.
Alexandria led 4-1 in the sixth and 7-5 in the seventh before watching those late leads disappear. Litchfield responded with eight runs in its final three at-bats, including a three-run eighth that proved to be the final blow.
Alexandria had positioned itself for a win with some clutch hits in the middle innings. Dalton Leuschke hit a solo shot as a part of a two-run fourth inning. Aaron Billberg then hit a two-RBI double in the fourth that gave his team a three-run lead.
Alexandria answered a four-run sixth by Litchfield with a three-run top of the seventh to retake the lead at 7-5. Leuschke opened the inning with a triple before Carlsen drove him in with an RBI single. A few batters later, Erich Murphy delivered a two-run double that gave his team the lead back.
It proved to be short-lived as Litchfield saddled reliever Nick Knoblach with the loss. Shawn Krueger started the game and cruised through five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He left with one out in the inning and was charged with allowing five runs, four earned, on eight hits and two walks. He struck out three.
“It was a tough loss for our guys,” Engebretson said. “We really felt we should have gotten this one. Litchfield did show lots of fight in that every time we scored runs, they were able to come right back and answer with runs of their own. That is a credit to them, but it was definitely a tough loss.”
Alexandria went into that game feeling pretty good about itself after exploding in the opening round against Marshall. Post 87 watched a 6-0 lead disappear but scored 18 runs over the final four innings to run away with things late.
Alexandria was dominant from up and down its lineup. Vogeler went 4-for-8 from the leadoff spot with two doubles, three runs scored and three RBIs. Leuschke added a double and a triple in a three-hit, four-RBI day. Carlsen, Luc Beireis, Domine and Parker Giroux combined for 12 hits, 14 runs and nine RBIs in the four through seven spots in the order, while Chris Curry went 4-for-6 with three runs and four RBIs.
“I actually have never seen anything like it,” Engebretson said. “Twenty-four runs on our end and 37 runs total in the game. That is unbelievable. I was really impressed with our seniors, who came up with 21 of our hits. It was evident that they wanted the win, and they came through for us.”
Alexandria ended the summer season with a 14-15 record. That came against another strong schedule that included trips to the College World Series Tournament and the Gopher Classic.
“Although we did not reach our goal of getting to the state tournament, I do still consider the summer season a success,” Engebretson said. “Sometimes it is tough to overlook the final results, but I do feel that our guys worked hard and became a better team.”
WILLMAR 411 200 002 – 10 12 0
ALEXANDRIA 010 000 000 – 1 5 3
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Logan Serum – L, 3 2/3IP, 8H, 8R, 3ER, 2BB, 1SO; Nick Knoblach – 5 1/3IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 2SO
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – Vogeler – 1-4, 2B; Billberg – 1-3; Carlsen – 2-3, HR, BB, 1 run, RBI; Domine – 1-3
ALEXANDRIA 000 202 300 – 7 11 1
LITCHFIELD 000 104 13X – 9 12 5
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Krueger – 5 1/3IP, 8H, 5R, 4ER, 2BB, 3SO; Knoblach – 1 2/3IP, 2H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 0SO; Nate Nelson – 1IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1SO
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – Billberg – 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Leuschke – 3-5, HR, 3B, 2 runs, RBI; Carlsen – 1-5, RBI; Beireis – 2-4, BB, 3 runs; Domine – BB; Murphy – 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Chris Curry – 2-4, 2B, BB, 2 runs, RBI
ALEXANDRIA 330 005 247 – 24 26 1
MARSHALL 026 020 201 – 13 15 4
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – AJ Anderson – 2 2/3IP, 6H, 8R, 8ER, 5BB, 2SO; Beau Backhaus – W, 4IP, 6H, 4R, 3ER, 1BB, 2SO; Nelson – 2 1/3IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 1SO
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – Vogeler – 4-8, 2 2B, 3 runs, 3 RBI; Billberg – 2-7, 1 run, RBI; Leuschke – 4-5, 2B, 3B, BB, 2 runs, 4 RBI; Carlsen – 3-6, BB, 4 runs; Beireis – 3-4, 3 BB, 4 runs, 3 RBI; Domine – 3-4, 2 BB, 1 run, 5 RBI; Giroux – 3-6, 2B, BB, 5 runs, RBI; Murphy – BB; Curry – 4-6, 2B, BB, 3 runs, 4 RBI; Knoblach – BB, 1 run, RBI