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Cardinals advance past Big Lake in section playoffs

Dan Kuhn delivers a pitch against Big Lake on Thursday in a Section 8AAA playoff game at Knute Nelson Ballpark. Kuhn picked up the complete game victory, going seven innings and allowing only two earned runs to lead the Cardinals past Big Lake 6-2. (Blaze Fugina/Echo Press)

Dan Kuhn pitched seven strong innings Thursday as the Alexandria baseball team continued its run in the Section 8AAA playoffs with a 6-2 victory over Big Lake at Knute Nelson Ballpark.

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Kuhn pitched all seven innings, spreading five Big Lake hits for only two runs scored in the third and seventh innings.

Alexandria got the scoring started in the first inning as Grant Toivonen and Toby Helgeson reached base at the top of the lineup with two singles. Mitch Thompson drove in one RBI with a sacrifice fly and Casey Hammerback drove in another with a two-out single.

Alexandria broke the game open in the third inning as three Big Lake errors helped them score three runs for a 5-1 lead. Thompson singled both Helgeson and Parker Revering for two RBIs in the inning.

Alexandria extended its lead to 6-1 in the fifth inning on a Zach Peterson sacrifice fly.

The Cardinals played much better defense after committing four errors in a second round section loss to St. Cloud Tech on Monday. Head coach Russ Hinrichs was pleased to see zero errors in the field Thursday for the Cardinals.

“Today was a clean baseball game, which is what we needed to play to get the sour taste of Monday out of our system,” Hinrichs said. “I thought the kids responded very well, two good days of practice after Monday and back to playing Cardinal baseball.”

Kuhn also felt the strong defense behind him as Big Lake managed to put some balls in play but only picked up five hits. He said the pitching advice that assistant coach Kevin Engebretson gave him before the game paid off against Big Lake.

“Enge just told me throw them like you would to Brainerd,” Kuhn said. “Mix it up a lot, throw low.”

The Cardinals’ catcher Hammerback, who drove in one of five Cardinals' RBIs in the game, said the pitching from Kuhn looked as good behind home plate as it did in the box score.

“Really well,” Hammerback said about Kuhn’s pitching. “He could hit his spots, and that’s all that really matters.”

The Cardinals hitters also managed to hit Big Lake starting pitcher Adam Moss early, chasing him from the game with no outs in the third inning. Alexandria scored five runs in the first three innings, but only two were earned by Moss.

Thompson said they were able to sit on the fastball as the Cardinals did not see many off-speed pitches.

“You could see it out of his hand the whole way, so it was all about contact from there,” Thompson said.

The Cardinals are now scheduled to face Moorhead at 11 a.m. on Monday in St. Cloud. The winner of that game will play again at 1 p.m. for a spot in the Section 8AAA finals.


BIG LAKE – 001 000 1 – 2 5 4

ALEXANDRIA – 203 010 x – 6 10 0

ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Dan Kuhn – W, 7IP, 2R, 2ER, 5H, 2BB, 4SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Grant Toivonen – 3-4, 2 runs; Toby Helgeson – 2-4, 2 runs; Parker Revering – 1-3, 2 runs, Sac; Mitch Thompson – 1-3, 3 RBIs, BB; Casey Hammerback – 1-4, RBI; Parker Bowden – 2-3; Zach Peterson – 0-1, RBI, 2BB; Cody McLaughlin – 0-2; Ben Kluver – 0-1; Travis Krueger – 0-2, BB 

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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