Legion baseball: Alexandria falls to WillmarAlexandria outhit its opponent but couldn't score the runs needed to win
Alexandria outhit its opponents but couldn’t score
Willmar didn’t allow the Fat Daddy’s Alexandria American Legion Post 87 baseball team to end its regular season on a high note, handing Alexandria a 9-5 loss Tuesday night.
“[We] did out-hit Willmar in the game, but struck out 15 times and were unable to come up with the big hit to bust things open in the middle innings,” said head coach Kevin Engebretson.
“Post 87 also committed too many mental errors throughout the night – we missed a fake bunt and run, we failed to take easy outs on lead runners, we had too many wild pitches and passed balls, and we didn’t put the ball in play with runners in scoring position,” he said. “All around, it was a pretty sloppy performance by our guys and we’ve got some room for improvement heading into our next round of games.
“The good news is, this was just another regular season game, and chances are strong we will get another crack at these guys in the playoffs when things really start get meaningful.”
Alexandria took an early lead in the first inning as A.J. Anderson drove in Grant Becker after reaching on a fielder’s choice to make it 1-0.
Willmar answered in the second and tied it up at 1-1 after a leadoff double and an errant throw on the next play flew into the batting cage area down the first base line.
“That was a situation where our opponents are giving us an easy out on a lead runner and we just need to take it,” said Engebretson.
Willmar scored two more in the third with a walk, a single, a sacrifice bunt, and a two-run base hit to take a 3-1 lead in the early going.
Alexandria came back in the fourth and scored two runs of its own to tie things up at 3-3.
“Gideon Burnham hit one hard to left field, the defender was unable to make a play, and Burnham ended up on second with good hustle out of the box,” Engebretson explained. “Erich Murphy then drilled a shot to the left center field fence for a double to plate Burnham.”
After reaching third on a passed ball, Murphy was driven in by Jeff Swedberg, who put the ball in play on the ground past the pitcher to plate Murphy.
Post 87 would then take the lead in the fifth. Zach Peterson walked, took second on a passed ball and Anderson singled to make it first and third with no outs. Beau Backhaus then delivered an RBI single to score Peterson to make it 4-3.
Burnham came up again and gave his team a perfect bunt down the chalk, forcing the Willmar defender to sail a ball up the line, scoring Anderson and making it second and third with no outs, extending the lead to 5-3.
But the home team was unable to capitalize and bust things open, as three consecutive guys were unable to drive in a run and the lead stayed right there.
“There’s a situation where we just need to do something positive – doesn’t even need to be a hit – to drive in some more runs,” commented the coach.
Starting pitcher Logan Serum pitched well to that point, scattering hits and working his team out of jams, but Willmar was starting to hit some balls a little harder around the ballpark.
After three safeties and a hit by pitch, it was 5-4 still in favor of Alexandria and Engebretson replaced Serum with Anderson to work out of a bases-loaded jam. Unfortunately, a passed ball to the first batter allowed Willmar to tie the game at 5-5.
After a single up the middle, Willmar took a 7-5 lead heading into the late innings.
Post 87 had a nice chance to get things going in the eighth, but after a base-runner had reached on a hit, he was picked off by the catcher after a strike three to the next batter.
“The double that followed by Nick Knoblach would have made things interesting with just one out, but it wasn’t to be,” said Alexandria’s coach. “Again, unfortunately, just a silly mistake by a base-runner and we’re down two runs – that’s pretty much the one thing that can’t happen. Hopefully we can learn from it for future games.”
Willmar added two more insurance runs in the ninth inning to extend the lead to 9-5.
Logan Serum started and was tagged with the tough luck loss, going five and a third innings, allowing seven runs, five earned. He scattered nine hits, walked one, and struck out five.
Anderson came on in relief and tossed the final three and two-thirds, allowed two earned runs on two hits and three walks. He struck out six Willmar hitters.
Offensively, five Alexandria hitters had multiple hits in the game – Knoblach, Anderson, Backhaus, Burnham, and Pat Leary each had two hits. Becker and Murphy had one safety apiece to round out the hit column.
Alexandria will now head to Princeton for its last regular season tournament this weekend, opening up against defending Legion World Series Champion Eden Prairie at 5:30 p.m. on Friday night. The championship rounds are on Sunday.
The District 7 tournament takes place in Litchfield from Wednesday, July 25 through Saturday, July 28. The winner of that tourney will earn its spot in the state tournament the following weekend in Chaska.
WILLMAR 012 004 002 9-11-4
ALEXANDRIA 100 220 000 5-12-2
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so)– Logan Serum (L) 5.1-7-5-9-1-5; A.J. Anderson 3.2-2-2-2-3-6.
ALEXANDRIA HITTING – A.J. Anderson 2-3, 1 run, 1 rbi, 2 bb; Gideon Burnham 2-5, 1 run; Erich Murphy 1-3, 2b, 1 run, 1 bb; Nick Knoblach 2-4, 2b; Beau Backhaus 2-5, 1 run; Pat Leary 2-4; Grant Becker 1-5, 1 run; Jeff Swedberg 1 rbi; Zach Peterson 1 run, 1 bb.