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Beetles baseball: Slow start doesn't concern Saberhagen

Alexandria starter Nick Berhel delivered a pitch against Duluth during the fourth inning on Sunday. Berhel did not factor in the final decision against the Huskies. He left after four innings, allowing just one unearned run on three hits. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

Going 2-3 on a five-game home stand might be disappointing in August for Alexandria Beetles head coach Drew Saberhagen.

In the first week of the season, it proved to be no cause for concern. Like a lot of Northwoods League teams, the Beetles know they will look a lot different in a couple of weeks as players get into town after their college seasons come to an end.

"I really am looking forward to this summer," Saberhagen said after an 8-3 loss to Duluth on Sunday. "I think it's going to be a special one just like last summer. Like I said, we'll try to win this first half, but if we don't, I like our chances in the second half. I really like this team. There's no panic button or anything like that."

Saberhagen is extremely comfortable with the players he has assembled on this team. Guys like Matt Beaty (Belmont) and Jimmy Pickens (Michigan State) will be expected to add some pop to the lineup from the left side. Beaty led Belmont with seven home runs and 46 RBIs this past season, while Pickens led the Spartans with six home runs as a freshman.

The pitching staff will also start to take shape as guys like Ali Simpson (Bethune-Cookman) and Brandon Johnson (Florida State) arrive after making a run in the NCAA regionals with their teams.

The lack of pitching depth in the first week to 10 days of a summer season is probably the most difficult thing to manage for Northwoods League managers. Saberhagen tried to get an extra inning out of St. Cloud State's Scott Sanderson on Sunday. Sanderson was pitching for the second straight day and had already thrown two innings in a 4-3 game heading into the ninth.

He tried to pitch through a sore knee, but the Huskies got to him with one swing of the bat in the ninth. Duluth's Max Duval (Hawaii) waited through a visit to the mound before unloading on a pitch that he sent over the centerfield fence for a grand slam that blew the game open.

"I didn't know Sandy's knee was bothering him a little bit," Saberhagen said. "I probably shouldn't have let him go out for that ninth and brought [Jon] Reed in earlier. That was probably my's one of those things where I want to go get guys in certain spots, but with the depth that we have right now, I don't have that option. When we get everyone here, and we have 13 arms here, and they're in their right roles, we can roll through things a lot easier."

Sanderson took the loss after giving up five earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. Nick Berhel (USC) got the start and allowed one unearned run through the first four innings. He scattered three hits and two walks, while striking out five.

Berhel left the game with a 3-1 lead before Duluth took advantage of two Alexandria errors in the sixth to tie the game. It was the third error and third unearned run of the game allowed by the Beetles.

"I'm not really worried about it," Saberhagen said. "Our infield play has been outstanding. Johnny Tolson (Arkansas) at third base is pretty fun to watch. He's made some big plays for us...I'm definitely not worried about our defense. Our defense is going to be just fine."

Saberhagen is confident the team in general will be just fine once the roster is set. The Beetles were scheduled to go on the road for three straight before returning home to face the St. Cloud Rox tomorrow night, Thursday.

"Our temp guys are giving us everything they got," Saberhagen said. "They're so excited to be up here and they're really playing hard. Seeing the bats we have coming up - once they get here, I'll be looking forward to coming back to Knute."


DULUTH 001 002 104 - 8 9 1

ALEXANDRIA 012 000 000 - 3 6 3

BEETLES PITCHING - Berhel - 4IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 5SO; Corey Fitzgerald - 2IP, 2H, 2R, 0ER, 1BB, 1SO; Sanderson - L, 2 1/3IP, 4H, 5R, 5ER, 3BB, 2SO; Reed - 2/3IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO

BEETLES HITTING - Will Fulmer - 0-3, BB; Dalton Leuschke - 1-4, 2B, 1 run, RBI; Tolson - 2-4, RBI; Ben Moore - 1-4, 1 run; David Garcia - 2-4; Jon Traetow - 0-2, BB, RBI; Josh Carpenter - 0-4; David Borchardt - 0-3; Dylan Raper - 0-2, BB, 1 run

DULUTH 423 002 100 - 12 14 1

ALEXANDRIA 000 000 000 - 0 6 2

BEETLES PITCHING - Shawn Riesgraf - L, 2IP, 7H, 6R, 6ER, 1BB, 0SO; Matthew Dietman - 1IP, 3H, 3R, 1ER, 0BB, 2SO; Rene Martinez - 3IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 4SO; Sanderson - 1IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 1SO; David Borchardt - 2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 2SO

BEETLES HITTING - Fullmer - 2-4; Garcia - 0-4; Tolson - 0-4; Moore - 0-4; Traetow - 0-4; Carpenter - 1-4; Leuschke - 2-4; Jared Musgrove - 0-2, BB; Raper - 1-2; Erik Nockleby - 0-1

DULUTH 000 200 000 - 2 6 5

ALEXANDRIA 100 200 30X - 6 7 0

BEETLES PITCHING - Alex Lakatos - 3 1/3IP, 1H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 6SO; J. Reed - 1 2/3IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 3SO; Berhel - 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO; Fitzgerald - 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 3BB, 3SO; Caleb DeLee - 1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 2SO

BEETLES HITTING - Fulmer - 0-3, BB, HP, 1 run; Garcia - 3-5, 2B, 1 run; Tolson - 0-4, HP, 1 run, RBI; Moore - 1-4, 3B, 1 run, RBI; Traetow - 0-4; Carpenter - 2-4, 1 run; Borchardt - 0-3, HP; Musgrove - 1-3, BB; Raper - 0-3, HP, 1 run

THUNDER BAY 104 000 300 - 8 11 0

ALEXANDRIA 200 100 002 - 5 9 2

BEETLES PITCHING - Mitchel Babb - L, 2 1/3IP, 1H, 5R, 3ER, 8BB, 2SO; Sanderson - 2 2/3IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 4SO; Riesgraf - 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0BB, 3SO; Martinez - 2IP, 4H, 3R, 0ER, 2BB, 0SO; Alex Guilford - 1IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO

BEETLES HITTING - Fulmer - 3-4, HP, 1 run; Garcia - 1-5; Tolson - 1-4, 2B, 1 run; Moore - 0-4; Borchardt - 1-4, 2B, RBI; Traetow - 1-3, HR, BB, 2 runs, RBI; Carpenter - 1-4; Nockleby - 0-3; Musgrove - BB, 1 run; Raper - 1-3, BB, RBI

THUNDER BAY 010 020 000 - 3 11 3

ALEXANDRIA 203 140 20X - 12 12 1

BEETLES PITCHING - Michael Reed - W, 4IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2SO; Fitzgerald - 3IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 2BB, 1SO; Dietman - 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1SO

BEETLES HITTING - Fulmer - 2-3, 2B, HP, BB, 4 runs, RBI; Garcia - 1-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Tolson - 1-4, BB, 1 run, RBI; Moore - 2-4, 2B, BB, 1 run, 3 RBI; Borchardt - 0-2, 2 BB, 1 run; Nockleby - 0-1; Traetow - 1-3, 2 BB, 1 run; Carpenter - 2-4, 1 run, 2 RBI; Musgrove - 1-3, HP, BB, 2 runs; Raper - 2-5, 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI

MorkenEric Morken Eric Morken started as a sports reporter for the Echo Press on July 9, 2007. He is a graduate of Augustana College in Sioux Falls where he majored in journalism and minored in history and communications. In his spare time, Morken enjoys hunting and fishing or just being in the outdoors. He is also an avid Minnesota sports fan. Follow Sports Reporter Eric Morken on Twitter at @echo_sports. Read Eric's sports blog, More with Morken at Areavoices.

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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