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Legion baseball: Strong summer ends at state

The Alexandria Post 87 Legion baseball team wrapped up a productive summer with a dramatic win over Cold Spring that helped them go 1-2 at the Division I state tournament this past weekend.

Post 87 ran into a couple of strong pitchers in the losses as they fell 4-1 to the St. Cloud Chutes in game three. That came after a 3-0 loss to Burnsville and future University of Minnesota pitcher Tyler Hanson.

"You never want to go down there and go 0-2," head coach Jake Munsch said. "Once you get to that point, you obviously have high expectations to do well, but every win from then on is a bonus. I would say the kids wanted to do a little better down there, but I think they're satisfied with how the year went. I don't think this group can look back and say, 'What if we would have tried harder?' I think they gave it their all the whole year."


Alexandria just couldn't bunch together enough hits to keep things going against St. Cloud on Saturday. Post 87 got three hits from Toby Helgeson but a three-run third inning proved to be too much to overcome against St. Cloud's Logan Schramel. Schramel went the distance, striking out three and walking just one.

Nick Knoblach was solid through 7 1/3 innings. He allowed the four runs, all earned, on 11 hits and three walks. Knoblach battled and kept Alexandria in the game before Mitch Thompson worked the final 1 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit.


The 5-4 win against Cold Spring was a chance to face a familiar foe from the Central Lakes Conference. Parker Bowden made Alexandria a walk-off winner the last time these two teams met on May 10 during one of the more memorable games from the high school season for the Cardinals.

Bowden was at it again on Friday night. Beau Backhaus walked to lead off the bottom of the 11th inning before getting bunted over by Grant Becker. That set the stage for Bowden, who delivered again with a walk-off single that gave his team a 5-4 win.

"It was almost exactly the same situation as high school ball," Munsch said. "Parker, two times in a row walks off against them."

Alexandria outhit Cold Spring 13-4 in that game. Zach Peterson and Ben Allen both had three hits, including a double each. Bowden also got the win on the mound after throwing 3 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. Backhaus went the first 7 1/3, allowing four runs, just one earned, on three hits and two walks. He struck out five.


Blake Stockert got the start against Burnsville knowing he would have to be almost perfect with Hanson countering him from the bump.

The Alexandria lefty did everything he could in six innings of work against the top ranked team in the latest Legion state rankings. He scattered three hits and three walks and allowed just one unearned run. Stockert struck out seven before giving way to Thompson, who allowed two runs on six hits over the final three frames.

"Blake threw a phenomenal game," Munsch said. "They just came out ahead in the end."

It was a 1-0 game heading into the eighth inning before Burnsville scored single runs over the final two frames. Hanson threw all nine, allowing just three hits and four walks. He struck out seven.

"I think even going into the game, there's two ways you can look at it," Munsch said. "You can look at it and be scared knowing you're going to face a guy who has this reputation, or you can take it to prove how good you can be. I think what they did is take the opportunity with a chip on their shoulder to prove they could hang with anybody, and that's what they did."

This group has proven time and again over the past three months that they can compete with a lot of good teams. Post 87 finished their summer with a record of 28-10 after going 17-8 during the school season.

"Chris [Koep] and I, we care about those kids," Munsch said. "And we've done everything we can to make them better ball players and better people. We've been with this group since their young VFW days, and it was tough on Chris and me knowing that group's moving on. We wish them the best of luck."


ST. CLOUD 003 100 000 - 4 12 1

ALEX 000 000 010 - 1 8 0

ALEX PITCHING - Knoblach - L, 7 1/3IP, 11H, 4R, 4ER, 3BB, 3SO; Thompson - 1 2/3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 0SO

ALEX OFFENSE - Knoblach - 0-4; Patrick Leary - 1-4, 2B, 1 run; Allen - 1-3, RBI; Peterson - 0-4; Thompson - 1-4; Helgeson - 3-4; Bowden - 1-4; Jeff Swedberg - 0-2; Becker - 1-4

COLD SPRING 201 001 000 00 - 4 4 0

ALEX 020 000 200 01 - 5 13 3

ALEX PITCHING - Backhaus - 7 1/3IP, 3H, 4R, 1ER, 2BB, 5SO; Bowden - W, 3 2/3IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 1SO

ALEX OFFENSE - Knoblach - 2-5, 1 run; Leary - 2-5, 1 run; Allen - 3-5, 2B, 2 RBI; Peterson - 3-4, HBP, 2B; Thompson - 1-5, 1 run; Helgeson - 1-5, 1 run; Backhaus - 0-4, BB, 1 run, RBI; Swedberg - 0-3; Cody McLaughlin - 0-1; Bowden - 1-4, RBI, BB

BURNSVILLE 010 000 011 - 3 9 2

ALEX 000 000 000 - 0 3 2

ALEX PITCHING - Stockert - L, 6IP, 3H, 1R, 0ER, 3BB, 7SO; Thompson - 3IP, 6H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 0SO

ALEX OFFENSE - Knoblach - 1-4; Allen - 2-4; Leary - 0-3, BB; Peterson - 0-3, BB; Helgeson - 0-4; Thompson - 0-3; Backhaus - 0-2, 2 BB; Swedberg - 0-4; Bowden - 0-2; Becker - 0-1

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.

(320) 763-1229