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Legion baseball: Dramatic comeback forces game two against Bemidji

Toby Helgeson fielded a ground ball near first base earlier this season. (Echo Press photo by Eric Morken)

After two narrow victories over the weekend, including a 13-inning game against Bemidji, the Alexandria Legion baseball team was one win away on Monday from advancing to the state tournament.

In the district playoffs, Alexandria was twice down to their last half inning during a game on Sunday against seventh seeded Bemidji. But clutch hitting helped get Alexandria to a championship rematch against Bemidji on Monday evening in Moorhead.

"You just don't even expect you're going to lose because the kids can always do it," head coach Jake Munsch said. "It seems like they always thrive in those situations. You just wish they wouldn't get in those situations."

Alexandria rallied for the win on Sunday after Bemidji was up 5-4 heading into the bottom of the 13th inning.

The inning began for Alexandria with a double to left field for Jeff Swedberg. Zach Peterson drove in Swedberg with an RBI single to tie the game 5-5, and he advanced to second base on a throw to the plate.

Nick Knoblach then put down a sacrifice bunt to move Peterson into position at third base with one out. That is when Patrick Leary hit a game-winning sacrifice fly to set up the rematch against Bemidji.

"Basically, what I was thinking is 'just hit it out of the infield,'" Leary told Glenn Pursley of the Fargo Forum about the sacrifice fly. "We never really give up or put our heads down. We keep the intensity going and momentum moving and try and chip away as fast as we can."

Alexandria was also down 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Once they tied the game, neither team crossed home plate until the 13th inning.

Alexandria would not have made it to the championship game without Parker Bowden's bat. He was a combined 4-for-5 in the two games against Bemidji and Moorhead Sunday with two runs, an RBI and a walk.

"Parker Bowden's last two games at the plate, the kid is just on a tear," Munsch said.

Grant Becker helped out by going 3-for-4 with a run against Moorhead. Peterson battled through an injury to come off the bench and provide the game-tying hit against Bemidji.

Peterson was hurt early in the tournament after colliding with the left fielder. He did not play the second day and came off the bench Sunday evening to go 1-for-1 with a run and an RBI.

Alexandria began weekend play in the district tournament with a 7-4 win against Thief River Falls on Friday in Moorhead.

A 9-2 loss against Bemidji on Saturday morning put Alexandria in the losers' bracket of the double elimination tournament. A 6-4 win against Moorhead on Sunday morning put Alexandria in the championship game and a Sunday rematch against Bemidji.

The win for Alexandria gave Bemidji its first loss, setting up a second championship game for a spot in the state tournament.


BEMIDJI - 100 001 200 000 1 - 5 15 1

ALEXANDRIA - 000 010 102 000 2 - 6 8 4

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Ben Allen - 6IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 3BB, 4K; Parker Bowden - 3IP, 5H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0SO; Beau Backhaus - 2IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 2BB, 2SO; Blake Stockert - 2IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 2SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Jeff Swedberg - 2-5, 2 runs, 1 BB; Zach Peterson - 1-1, 1 run, 1 RBI; Patrick Leary - 0-5, 2 RBIs; Mitch Thompson - 0-3, run; Ben Allen - 1-6; Parker Bowden - 2-3, 2 runs, RBI, BB; Nick Knoblach - 1-3, RBI, 2 BBs; Beau Backhaus - 1-4, 2 BBs; Cody McLaughlin - 0-5, BB

ALEXANDRIA - 002 020 011 - 6 9 2

MOORHEAD - 100 100 002 - 4 7 2

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Nick Knoblach - 8 1/3IP, 8 H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 7SO; Blake Stockert - 2/3IP, 0H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Swedberg - 2-4, run, RBI; Leary - 3-5, 2 RBIs; Toby Helgeson - 1-4; Thompson - 1-4, run; Allen - 2-4, run; Bowden - 2-2; Knoblach - 1-3, run, RBI, 2 BB; Grant Becker - 3-4, run

ALEXANDRIA - 000 000 110 - 2 6 0

BEMIDJI - 210 000 240 - 9 10 0

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Thompson - 6 1/3 IP, 7H, 5R, 4ER, 0BB, 5SO; Chris Leary - 2 2/3IP, 3H, 4R, 4ER, 2BB, 2SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Swedberg - 2-4; Thompson - 0-1, BB; Allen - 1-3, run, 2 BB; Christian Anderson - 0-2, BB; 0-3, BB; Knoblach - 1-5; Backhaus - 1-2, run, 2 BB; McLaughlin - 1-3

THIEF RIVER FALLS - 000 100 300 - 4 5 0

ALEXANDRIA - 100 100 230 - 7 15 0

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Backhaus - 8IP, 5H, 4R, 3ER, 1BB, 5SO; Knoblach - 1IP, 1SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Swedberg 1-3, run; Peterson - 1-1; Leary - 3-4, RBI; Helgeson - 2-4, run; Thompson - 2-4, run, RBI; Allen - 0-2, RBI, BB; Bowden - 1-4; Knoblach - 3-4, 3 runs, 2 RBIs, BB; Backhaus - 1-2, run, 3 RBIs; Kluver - 0-2, BB; McLaughlin - 1-2, run

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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