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Resorters Baseball: A win short of state

Mitch Thompson delivers a pitch against Pelican Rapids on Saturday in the Region 16C Tournament. The right-hander allowed two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings while striking out six in a no decision. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)1 / 3
Alexandria's Chris Beach hits a single in the fourth inning of Saturday's game against Pelican Rapids. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)2 / 3
Black Sox third baseman Shawn Kruger fires across the diamond to retire a Pelican Rapids runner at first base Saturday afternoon. (Ryan Pietruszewski | Echo Press)3 / 3

A combination of the long ball and some small ball produced two runs in the third inning for a 2-1 lead Saturday afternoon in Ashby, but the Alexandria Black Sox couldn’t muster any more offense and eventually fell to Pelican Rapids 3-2 in 10 innings.

With the loss, Alexandria gets knocked out of the Region 16C amateur baseball tournament just one win short of state tournament berth, finishing the season with a 10-5 record.

“I just think we didn’t capitalize on all the opportunities that we had. Plenty of baserunners to probably get the job done,” Sox starting pitcher and leadoff hitter Mitch Thompson said. “We battled, though. We weren’t quitting until the last pitch.”

The Lakers’ Alex Johnson got the scoring started when he singled and scored in the top of the second inning. Thompson didn’t allow them to keep the lead long, though, as he came up with one out in the bottom of the third and hit a no-doubter solo home run to left field. And before the Lakers could get out of the inning, Jordan Smith walked, advanced to third on a Toby Helgeson single and scored on a Parker Revering sacrifice fly to center field.

On the mound, Thompson was sharp through the first three turns through the order and ended up recording six strikeouts before his innings load these playoffs caught up to him. Taylor Fuhs, the Lakers leadoff man, drew a walk with one out before Dana Johnson singled and Adam Johnson also walked. With the bases loaded, cleanup hitter Jordan Harms stepped up and worked the count full. The payoff pitch missed, Fuhs walked in to tie the game 2-2, and Thompson, who said he started the day at about 80 percent, was replaced on the mound by Chris Curry.

“I was just really tired, threw too many pitches,” said Thompson. “I was getting high on a lot of hitters. It really wears you down when you have to come back with fast balls and you can’t throw the pitch you want to throw.”

Curry came up big, forcing a fielder’s choice and a groundout to keep the score even after seven.

The teams were deadlocked through the ninth inning, but Pelican Rapids got to Curry in the top of the tenth. Austin Martz led off with a bunt single, and Curry’s rushed throw to first was wild, allowing Martz to stroll into second with no outs. After Jan-Erik Lindberg popped out on a bunt attempt, Drew Thompson swatted an RBI single to score the eventual game-winning run.

In the bottom of the tenth, M. Thompson picked up a one-out single, but the next two batters were retired to end the game and Alexandria’s run in the playoffs.

“We’ve been kind of scuffling a little bit the last couple games hitting-wise and not putting up many runs,” Thompson said. “Our pitching has been there, and just a lot of battling and good defense really helped us out a lot. I tried to do my best. I wish it was a different ending for the outcome.”

While Alexandria’s season came to an end, the Black Sox are confident they’ll be the team to beat in the coming years.

“We’ll be back, the same crew,” said Thompson. “Maybe get a couple more guys in the off season, we’ll see. We’ll come back next year better than ever.”