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Legion baseball: Alexandria upends No. 1 ranked Eden Prairie

Contibuted photo The Alexandria Legion baseball team (above) had a little extra incentive to pull off the upset against top-ranked Eden Prairie in the Gopher Classic last weekend. While checking out of the Residence Inn hotel in Eden Prairie, the man at the front desk asked them who they played that day. When he was told Eden Prairie he responded by joking that they had no chance against the Eagles and if they won he would personally buy them all one more night's stay at the hotel. The team returned to ...

The Fat Daddy's Alexandria American Legion baseball team enters every summer knowing it will have its chances to beat some good opponents with the schedule it plays.

That was definitely the case at the annual Gopher Baseball Classic in Eden Prairie this past weekend. Alexandria got its chance at the best team in Minnesota in the tournament finale and Colin Erickson showed off his arm with a dominating performance in a 1-0 win over Eden Prairie.

That was the highlight of a tournament run that saw the local nine win three out of its five games. A win over Lakeville South got their weekend started before Sioux Falls East outslugged them in a 12-9 game two. Alexandria then battled back from five runs down to beat Osseo 13-8. A team from Boulder, Colorado dropped Alexandria to .500 in the tournament with a 13-5 loss before the thriller against Eden Prairie ended the weekend for Alexandria on a positive note.

"When it was all said and done, I couldn't have been any more proud of our guys for the way they played over the weekend," head coach Kevin Engebretson said. "Beating Eden Prairie was an awesome way to cap off an awesome weekend, and it was, without a doubt, a game that should help us a great deal as we head into playoffs."

Alexandria hosts four more games this weekend before the district playoffs in Willmar from July 23-25. North St. Paul comes to Knute Nelson Memorial Ballpark tomorrow, Saturday, for two games against Alexandria with the first one slated for noon and game two scheduled for 2:30. Alexandria will then match up with Fergus Falls at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Alexandria 1,

Eden Prairie 0

Alexandria knew it would need a dominant start on the mound to keep up with perennial powerhouse Eden Prairie.

The Eagles are fresh off a Class AAA state high school championship. They are ranked No. 1 in the state's legion rankings and have won legion state titles four times in the last six years.

Engebretson called on his left-hander to deliver a gem and Erickson did not disappoint. He held a powerful lineup to just one hit, while scattering three walks and striking out nine. Only one Eden Prairie base runner got as far as second base.

"It was one of those days where you could just sit back and enjoy," Engebretson said. "He had his best stuff, and they had a hard time doing much of anything. Our guys played defense when we needed to, and we grinded it out. It was just a really fun, well played baseball game. This is surely a game that our guys will remember for a long time."

Erickson had a run to work with from the moment he stepped on the mound. Parker Giroux led off the game with a walk before Erickson sent a double down the left field line that put runners on second and third with one out. Dalton Leuschke stepped up and got the ball past the pitcher on a groundball to short that scored Giroux from third.

That was all Erickson needed on this day. He stymied the Eden Prairie bats to pick up the biggest win of the summer for Alexandria.

"His day was especially amazing to me because of how tight that strike zone was," Engebretson said. "Colin was basically forced to say, 'here it is, try and hit it,' and today they couldn't. Pretty incredible."

Boulder, CO 13,

Alexandria 5

That win was a boost after an opponent from Boulder, Colorado broke out for 13 runs in game four of the tournament.

Alexandria fell behind early and could not recover after Boulder scored six runs in the third. They continued to add on to that lead with at least one run in three of the last four innings.

Leuschke and Shawn Krueger led the Alexandria attack with two hits each. Six other players had one, but many hard hit balls found a defender throughout the day.

"We both hit the ball hard," Engebretson said. "But they were finding the holes and we weren't. Some days in baseball, that's just the way it goes."

Alexandria 13, Osseo 8

Alexandria had no such problems in a dramatic comeback against Osseo in its third game of the tournament.

Osseo led 5-0 heading into the bottom of the third before Alexandria exploded for 11 runs in the bottom of the frame. Tyler Iverson highlighted the 10-hit inning with a two-run home run.

"Our guys have put up some big innings this summer," Engebretson said. "It's great to see that they won't give up when they are down. There is no time limit in baseball, and they like to spend their time hitting."

Mark Whiting added the second home run of the game for Alexandria. That was part of a three-hit game for Whiting out of the ninth spot in the lineup. Ross Thompson and Erickson added two hits and three RBI apiece.

The big third inning made a winner out of starter Jordan Hirsch. Hirsch went the distance, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out five.

Sioux Falls East 12,

Alexandria 9

Alexandria overcame an even bigger deficit in game two of the tournament before Sioux Falls East used a four-run fourth to secure the win.

Alexandria trailed 8-1 going into the top of the third before a seven-run inning tied things up at eight. They grouped together eight hits and a walk to put up the crooked number they needed to get back in the game.

Unfortunately for Alexandria, Sioux Falls answered right back. They scored once in the bottom of the inning before adding three in the fourth. That proved to be enough as Alexandria's rally in the seventh came up three-runs short.

Whiting led a 15-hit barrage by Alexandria with three hits, an RBI and a run scored. Giroux, Thompson, Erickson and Leuschke all added two hits apiece.

Chris Fields settled things down after he was forced to relieve Cody Larson without an out recorded in the first. Fields went on to pitch the rest of the game, allowing five runs on seven hits and two walks.

"[He] did a nice job in relief and kept his team in the game all the way," Engebretson said.

Alexandria 6,

Lakeville South 2

Alexandria didn't need a big rally to win the opener.

Instead, it took the lead in the bottom of the first and never looked back. Alexandria broke open a 1-0 lead with five runs through the final three innings.

Leuschke led that offensive charge with three doubles and two RBI. Shawn Krueger had two hits and three RBI, while Erickson and Giroux combined for four hits and four runs scored.

That was plenty of support for starter Nate Nelson. He went the distance, scattering nine hits and a walk, while allowing just one earned run. He struck out three.

"Nate kept the ball down and got all kinds of ground balls for us," Engebretson said. "Our guys played their best defense of the summer as they turned three, nearly four, inning ending double plays. Let them put the ball in play and good things will happen."


ALEXANDRIA 100 000 0 - 1 3 0

EDEN PRAIRIE 000 000 0 - 0 1 0

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Colin Erickson - W, 7IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 3BB, 9SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Parker Giroux - 1-2, 2 BB, 1 run; Erickson - 1-3, 2B; Dalton Leuschke - BB, RBI; Shawn Krueger - 3 BB; Tyler Iverson - BB; Luc Beireis - 1-3

BOULDER 206 120 2 - 13 15 0

ALEXANDRIA 121 001 0 - 5 10 2

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Krueger - L, 3IP, 11H, 8R, 6ER, 2BB, 2SO; Eric Carlsen - 4IP, 4H, 5R, 4ER, 6BB, 2SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Ross Thompson - 1-2, 2 BB, 1 run, RBI; Erickson - 1-4, 2B, 1 run; Leuschke - 2-3, 2 2B, BB, 1 run, RBI; Krueger - 2-2, 2 BB; Chris Vogeler - 1-4, RBI; Chris Fields - 1-1, 1 run; Mark Whiting - 1-3, 3B, BB, 1 run, RBI; Carlsen - 1-3

OSSEO 032 030 0 - 8 8 1

ALEXANDRIA 0011 011 X - 13 13 3

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Jordan Hirsch - W, 7IP, 8H, 8R, 4ER, 2BB, 5SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Giroux - 1-2, 2 BB, 2 runs; Thompson - 2-4, 2 runs, 3 RBI; Erickson - 2-4, 1 run, 3 RBI; Leuschke - 1-4, 2B, 1 run, RBI; Krueger - 1-4, 1 run, RBI; Iverson - 1-3, HR, BB, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Vogeler - 2-4; Beireis - BB, 1 run, RBI; Whiting - 3-4, HR, 3 runs, RBI

ALEXANDRIA 107 000 1 - 9 15 1

SIOUX FALLS 711 300 X - 12 12 1

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Cody Larson - 0+IP, 5H, 7R, 7ER, 3BB, 0SO; Chris Fields - 6IP, 7H, 5R, 5ER, 2BB, 0SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Giroux - 2-3, BB, 1 run; Thompson - 2-4, 1 run; Erickson - 2-4, 1 run; Leuschke - 2-4, 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Krueger - 1-2, 2B, 2 BB, 2 runs, RBI; Iverson - 2-4, 1 run, RBI; Carlsen - 1-3, 2B, 1 run, RBI; Whiting - 3-4, 1 run, RBI

LAKEVILLE 000 001 1 - 2 9 0

ALEXANDRIA 100 131 X - 6 11 1

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Nate Nelson - W, 7IP, 9H, 2R, 1ER, 1BB, 3SO

ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Giroux - 2-4, 1 run; Erickson - 2-2, BB, 3 runs; Leuschke - 3-3, 3 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Krueger - 2-3, 3 RBI; Carlsen - 1-2, 1 run, BB; Beireis - 1-2; Whiting - RBI