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Blue Anchors baseball: Newman seeing improvement

Alexandria's all-star outfielder Georgie Salem out of the University of Alabama swings at a pitch during a recent Blue Anchors game against Thunder Bay. Salem has put up big numbers this summer by hitting .345 in 148 at-bats through Sunday. He also has 21 RBIs and has scored 29 runs for Alexandria. (Echo Press photo by Blaze Fugina)

Alexandria Blue Anchors Manager Al Newman is happy with some of the steps his players have made to improve to 7-11 in the second half of their Northwoods League schedule before heading into the all-star break..

The Blue Anchors finished last in the Northwoods League first-half standings with a 10-24 record and 14 games out of first place. Heading into this week's all-star break they are in sixth place, 8.5 games behind first place Waterloo and riding a four-game winning streak before losing three to St. Cloud over the weekend.

Newman said improved play by the team's pitching and defense has shown in the Blue Anchors' second half record.

"We have more of a consistent rotation right now," he said. "We have somewhat of a bullpen that allows us to close out games."

Newman said the defense has been better in the second half, which has helped take some pressure off the starting pitchers.

"We aren't giving away so many outs as we were in the first half when our defense was making three or four errors a game," he said. "That definitely helps the pitching staff."

Outfielder Georgie Salem and infielder Albert Baur are two position players and all-stars that Newman pointed to as consistent offensive producers for the Blue Anchors.

Infielder Andrew Sohn is another player who has been an offensive leader this year for the Blue Anchors. Newman was disappointed that Sohn was left off the roster for this week's all-star game.

"I think he's first or second in hitting on our ball club and he was left off the all-star roster," Newman said. "I think it may be because the first half defensively he didn't play that well. And he's gotten better."

Newman told the players that he wants them to build consistency over the rest of the season. Finishing in first place and making the playoffs may be important, but Newman's priority is for players to show improvement as they return to college.

"On top of that is development of a player, and that's what I have really concentrated on," he said.


Any momentum Blue Anchors had from their four-win homestand did not continue into last weekend's three games against St. Cloud.

The Blue Anchors lost all three games in a weekend series against the Rox, with the closest game coming in a 4-3 loss in St. Cloud on Friday. St. Cloud also won an 8-2 home game on Saturday and 9-2 on Sunday in Alexandria.

Ryan Blanchard led the Blue Anchors' offense in the loss on Sunday, going 3-for-4 with a home run and an RBI. Salem went 3-for-5 in the game with an RBI.

Kevin Hatcher was the losing pitcher in the game despite only giving up one earned run in three innings. The Blue Anchors bullpen gave up eight earned runs in the game over six innings.

The Blue Anchors' pitching and offense did not provide much more in the way of highlights in the 8-2 loss on Saturday.

Keegan Dale led the Blue Anchors offensively, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Aaron Gretz picked up the team's other RBI in the game.

Corey Fitzgerald earned the loss after giving up five earned runs and 11 hits over 4 and 1/3 innings against St. Cloud.

On Friday, the Blue Anchors could not hold the St. Cloud offense scoreless after heading into the bottom of the ninth inning in a 3-3 tie.

Tyler Beck started the game for the Blue Anchors, giving up three earned runs over 6 and 2/3 innings. Scott Sanderson came on in relief in the game and was given the loss after allowing the winning run to reach base with two outs in the ninth inning. Jose Cardona also allowed a hit and a walk in the inning.

Baur led the offense for the Blue Anchors, going 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI in the game. Keegan Dale was credited with the other Blue Anchors RBI in the game.

The losses moved the Alexandria to 7-11 in the second half of the season, which puts them eight-and-a-half games behind Waterloo in the North Division.

All-star break

The Blue Anchors' next game is Thursday night at home against St. Cloud. The Northwoods League All Star game was held at 7:35 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

Baur, Salem and pitcher Chase Rihtarchik were selected to play in the game for the Blue Anchors.


ST. CLOUD 100 042 011 - 9 14 0

ALEXANDRIA 000 002 000 - 2 13 1

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Kevin Hatcher - L, 3IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 3BB, 1SO; Spencer Koopmans - 2IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 3SO; Taylor Simpson - 1IP, 4H, 4R, 4ER, 0BB, 3SO; Zac Custer - 2IP, 1H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 0SO; Scott Sanderson - 1IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 1SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Georgie Salem - 3-5, RBI; Kris Goodman - 1-5; Andrew Sohn - 0-4; Albert Baur - 2-4; Tim Cusick - 2-4, 2B; Ryan Blanchard - 3-4, run, RBI, HR; Michael Barash - 0-4; Keegan Dale - 1-4, run; Tyler Curtis - 0-1; Dalton Leuschke - 1-3

ALEXANDRIA 000 001 010 - 2 10 0

ST. CLOUD 400 010 30x - 8 14 1

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Corey Fitzgerald - L, 4.1IP, 11H, 5R, 5ER, 1BB, 2SO; Simpson - 0.2IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 1SO; Ross Slaney - 2IP, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 0SO; Andy Johnson - 1IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 2BB, 3SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Salem - 1-5, 2 SB; Goodman - 0-4, BB; Sohn - 2-4, 2 runs; Baur - 1-4; Blanchard - 0-4; Aaron Gretz - 1-3, RBI; Dale - 3-4, RBI; Andrew Mulato - 0-4; Leuschke - 2-2, BB; HBP, SB

ALEXANDRIA 000 021 000 - 3 9 1

ST. CLOUD 100 000 201 - 4 11 1

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Tyler Beck - 6.2IP, 8H, 3R, 3ER, 2BB, 3SO; Sanderson - L, 2IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 1BB, 0SO; Jose Cardona - 0IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 0SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Salem - 2-4; Goodman - 1-4, SB; Sohn - 1-4, run; Baur - 2-4, 2B, RBI; Cusick - 0-4; Blanchard - 1-4, run; Barash - 1-3, run, 2B, BB; Dale - 1-4, RBI; Curtis - 0-3

Blaze Fugina

Blaze Fugina is the sports editor of the Woodbury and South Washington County Bulletin newspapers. Previously, Blaze worked as a sports editor for the Pierce County Herald and a sports reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls in May of 2011. You can follow Blaze on Twitter at @BlazeFugina.

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