Legion baseball: Alexandria Post 87 3-2 at F-M InviteAlexandria fell just shy of earning a spot in the championship
The Fat Daddy’s Alexandria American Legion Post 87 baseball team had another nice weekend of baseball up at the Fargo-Moorhead Invitational as it went 3-2 in pool play, one game shy of earning a spot in the championship game on Sunday.
“With the late addition to the tournament, we had a couple of guys out of town,” said head coach Kevin Engebretson. “With Nick Knoblach and Erich Murphy also unable to fully participate due to injury, we were pretty short-handed – basically going the weekend with a roster of 10 – so our guys did a fantastic job of being flexible, playing different spots, and competing.
“It was also fun to see some different guys get some extended time in the field and do well for us,” he said. “Pitching and defense once again kept us in every game and we hope that continues throughout the rest of the summer. Our pitchers are extremely confident in themselves and have trust in the defense behind them, and that trust is awarding them with results.
“Overall, it was a great few days for our guys and another nice chance to grow and improve on individual and team play.”
Alexandria 8, Millard, NE 5
Millard jumped on the board early, scoring twice in the first inning, but Alexandria began chipping away.
Zach Peterson opened the bottom half of the inning, scoring on back-to-back doubles to cut it to 2-1. In the second, Christian Anderson and Peterson had back to back singles, with a double steal and a passed ball plating Anderson to tie it up 2-2.
It was the third inning in which Alexandria came up big, scoring five runs, including a three-run homer over the left center field fence by Pat Leary that scored Erich Murphy and Gideon Burnham. Peterson added an RBI single in the inning.
Post 87 added one more run in the fifth as Leary scored on another passed ball to extend the score to 8-2.
Millard made an attempt to come back in the top of the seventh with three hits and two walks, but Alexandria got itself out of a jam.
On a perfectly executed pickoff play at first base, a sneak-behind timing play from AJ Anderson to Blake Stockert sealed the deal.
“We work on plays like that just for situations like this, and our guys executed it very well and got us a win,” said Engebretson.
AJ Anderson went the distance for Alexandria and picked up the complete game win.
Post 87 was led at the plate by Peterson and Christian Anderson, who had three hits each. Anderson scored twice and stole three big bases.
“He really runs the bases well and picks up the extra bases whenever he gets the chance on balls in the dirt,” said Anderson’s coach.
Alexandria struggled against Moorhead, dropping the second game of the tournament 3-0.
“Too many mistakes, too many strikeouts and very few quality at bats for us tonight,” said Engebretson. “Beau Backhaus threw a nice game, even though he did not have his best stuff. He kept us in the game all night with a quality start, going all six innings and allowing just three runs, two of which were earned.
“One thing Beau does a nice job of is understanding which pitches are working and which ones aren’t, and he then goes to his others and makes things work.
“Alexandria had multiple chances throughout the game to score runs, but some of the key plays that hurt us were a botched squeeze attempt that turned into a double play and too many looking third strikes with runners in scoring position,” pointed out the Legion coach. “That’s baseball sometimes, but we can do a better job, as always, with situational hitting as it will help us score more runs and win more games.”
Post 87 was led at the plate again by Peterson as he had two hits from the leadoff spot. Anderson, Backhaus and Logan Serum had the other hits in the game,
Mandan, ND 4
After Mandan jumped in front of Post 87 3-1 in the third inning, things didn’t look good for Alexandria.
Neither team made any more headway until the seventh, when Alexandria found a way to extend the game.
Blake Stockert led off with a single before Backhaus ripped a two-out base hit to center field where the ball was misplayed by the Mandan outfielder, allowing Stockert to score and Backhaus advanced to second on the play. Setterstrom then had an infield base hit to make it first and third.
On the next pitch, Post 87 was aided by a passed ball that allowed Backhaus to score, knotting the game at 3-3 and pushing it into extra innings.
With two outs in the eighth, Stockert roped a double down the line, and Pat Leary followed suit with a double of his own to plate Stockert to make it 4-3.
Logan Serum then came through with a big RBI single to right to give his team some insurance, pushing it to 5-3.
Alexandria surrendered one run in the bottom half of the inning, but with the tying run on second base, pitcher Nick Knoblach blew a fastball by a Mandan hitter to strike him out and end the game.
“Knoblach threw a great game, going all eight innings for his team,” said Engebretson. “He was very sharp and looked better and better as the game went on. He battled for us and really threw a nice game.”
Alexandria was led at the plate by Leary who had three hits in the game, including the go ahead RBI double
Mitchell, SD 5
Post 87 couldn’t get much going against a solid team from Mitchell, SD, and came away on the losing end 5-2.
“They are probably the best defensive team we have seen so far this summer, as we had a bunch of hard hit balls that they made nice plays on,” said Engbretson. “It was actually a pretty good effort by our guys who were without Erich Murphy with a sore arm and Nick Knoblach who is still nursing a strained groin muscle.
“We really had a makeshift lineup today and I think our guys handled it very well.”
Mitchell took a 4-0 lead into the fifth inning before Alexandria loaded up the bases in the fifth with some solid base hits, but was only able to get one run in on a sacrifice fly by Christian Anderson.
With Mitchell scoring another in the bottom half, the deficit was pushed right back to 5-1. Much like the first game of the day, Post 87 still had something left in the tank.
Logan Serum and Kris Setterstrom started off the inning with back to back singles, and Christian Anderson again drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to make it 5-2.
The team had a couple other chances in the final frame but that was as close as they would get, making it final.
Blake Stockert started on the hill and was tagged with the loss.
In the game, Stockert lasted five plus innings and allowed five runs, three earned. Logan Serum got his team out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the sixth to give his team a chance, as he got three straight batters out without allowing a run to cross. He did not allow a hit and struck out one.
Alexandria was only able to collect four hits in the game, with Serum having two of them and a run scored. Setterstrom and Christian Anderson had the other safeties.
“They were a worthy opponent and probably deserved to win this one,” said Alexandria’s coach. “We hit lots of balls hard but they made all the plays in the field.”
Winnipeg, MB 1
A diving steal at home by Peterson gave Alexandria a dramatic 2-1 walk-off win over Winnipeg in the final game of the weekend.
With one out in the bottom of the seventh, Peterson singled through the hole on the left side. Then, with Swedberg at the plate, the two players executed a nice fake bunt and steal and, as the throw sailed into center field, Peterson scampered to third.
“After a mound visit, Post 87 had a squeeze play on to try to end it,” said Engebretson. “On first movement, Peterson sprinted toward home, and with Swedberg squaring around, the pitcher threw one up and in to try to hit the batter (as is taught by most teams).
“The pitch came too far up the line and Peterson dove in head first to steal home and to give his team an exciting 2-1 walkoff win to cap off another nice showing in tournament play.”
Hits were hard to come by for Alexandria as they collected just four in the game, but pitcher Logan Serum did not need much help, working his way through for a complete game victory.
“He used all three pitches to keep the hitters off balance and let his defense work behind him,” Engebretson said. “Our defense was very solid today as our guys played error-free baseball.
“We turned three double plays and Pat Leary again was great as he threw out two runners trying to steal second base. Logan spotted up at the knees and on the corners all game, and with our superb defense, it was a great day.”
In the game, Serum went all seven for the complete game win, allowing just one earned run.
Alexandria got on the board in the second inning when Leary singled with two outs. After a walk by Backhaus and a hit by pitch by Burnham loaded the bases, Anderson ripped a shot at the third baseman, who was unable to handle it, plating Leary and making it 1-0.
Winnipeg scratched its only run across in the fourth on a double, a ground ball out and a sacrifice fly to knot it up at 1-1.
“In the top of the seventh, Post 87 displayed one of its strong defensive plays as Serum blew a fastball by a hitter and Leary gunned out the runner at second for a nice ‘strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out’ to put Winnipeg down, setting up the last inning dramatics,” noted the Legion coach.
This upcoming weekend, Alexandria will host its annual 4th of July Tournament at Knute Nelson Memorial Park, which will include teams from Edina, Fergus Falls, Hastings, Mankato, North Saint Paul, West Fargo and Worthington.
Post 87’s opening game will be on Friday night against Hastings with an 8 p.m. first pitch. Play will resume over the weekend with championship play taking place on Sunday. Alexandria will then host Litchfield next Tuesday, July 10, for a nine-inning league game at 6:30 p.m. before taking off for the Gopher Classic Tournament the following weekend in the Twin Cities Area.
MILLARD, NE 200 000 3 5-8-3
ALEXANDRIA 115 010 X 8-13-2
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) – AJ Anderson (W) 7-8-5-3-4-9.
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – AJ Anderson 2-4, 1 run; Gideon Burnham 1-3, 1 run; Erich Murphy 1-4, 2b, 1 run; Pat Leary 1-3, hr, 2 runs, 3 rbi; Jeff Swedberg 2-4, 2b, 1 rbi; Christian Anderson 3-3, 2 runs; Zach Peterson 3-4, 2b, 1 run, 1 rbi.
ALEXANDRIA 000 000 0 0-6-2
MOORHEAD 101 010 X 3-8-1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Beau Backhaus (L) 7-8-3-2-4-2.
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – AJ Anderson 2bb; Logan Serum 1-3, 2b; Erich Murphy 1 bb; Nick Knoblach 1-2, sac; Beau Backhaus 1-3; Christian Anderson 1-3; Zach Peterson 2-4.
ALEXANDRIA 010 000 22 5-13-3
MANDAN, ND 003 000 01 4-7-1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Nick Knoblach (W) 8-7-4-2-1-8.
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – AJ Anderson 1bb; Logan Serum 1-2, 1 rbi; Beau Backhaus 2-5, 2b, 2 runs; Pat Leary 3-5, 2b, 1 run, 1 rbi; Jeff Swedberg 1-4, sac; Christian Anderson 1-2, 2bb; Blake Stockert 2-3, 1bb, 2b, 2 runs; Zach Peterson 1-5; Kris Setterstrom 2-3, 1 rbi, 1bb.
ALEXANDRIA 000 010 1 2-4-4
MITCHELL, SD 211 010 X 5-10-3
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Blake Stockert (L) 5-10-5-3-4-6; Logan Serum 1-0-0-0-0-1.
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – Logan Serum 2-3, 1 run; Beau Backhaus 1 run; Christian Anderson 1-2, 2b, 2 rbi; Kris Setterstrom 1-3.
WINNIPEG, MB 000 100 0 1-7-2
ALEXANDRIA 010 000 1 2-4-0
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Logan Serum (W) 7-7-1-1-1-4.
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – Gideon Burnham 1-2; Beau Backhaus 1bb; Pat Leary 1-2, 1 run, 1bb; Jeff Swedberg 1-2, 1 bb; Blake Stockert 1 bb; Zach Peterson 1-4, 1 run.