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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Ben Moore had to gather himself in the batter's box after getting a double taken away from him against the Rochester Honkers last Thursday night. With teammate Tanner Vavra on first, the catcher/outfielder from the University of Alabama sent a sharp ground ball down the third base line that was called foul by inches. Moore stepped back in the box after third-base coach Danny Benedeto had argued the call. Two pitches later, he turned on another pitch from Rochester's Mason Pingel.
The Alexandria Beetles put a scare into Willmar in the last two weeks of the season before the Stingers ultimately punched their ticket to the playoffs with a 21-13 second-half record. The Beetles bounced back from a 13-22 record in the first half to finish the second half 20-15 after winning three of their final five games of the regular season. That left them 1.5 games back in their attempt to reach the postseason for the second straight season. "I loved coming to the park with these guys," manager Drew Saberhagen said. "They competed. They had fun.
The Alexandria Beetles went from being in control of their own destiny to needing a lot of help in a matter of one game on Tuesday night. Alexandria put itself in position to grab a first-place tie with Willmar after winning the first of two games against the Stingers on Monday. A night later, those hopes of a second-half title took a big hit with a 5-3 loss to Willmar that dropped the Beetles into third place, two games behind Willmar and a half game back of St. Cloud. "The boys are upset," head coach Drew Saberhagen said on Wednesday morning.
Pitching has led the Fat Daddy's Alexandria American Legion Post 87 baseball team all season and that didn't change against the top competition in Minnesota at the Legion state tournament this past weekend. Alexandria had chances to win all three of its games in Chaska before coming home with a 1-2 record at the tournament. Post 87 allowed just six earned runs in 27 innings along the way as Beau Backhaus, Blake Stockert, A.J.
Beau Backhaus got the ball rolling and the offense carried it from there as the Fat Daddy's Alexandria Post 87 Legion baseball team earned a trip to state after winning the District 7 tournament last weekend. Backhaus was on the mound to start and end the tournament as he closed the door in a 10-8 win over Marshall in the championship game. That came after a 73-pitch, complete-game shutout in an opening 4-0 win over Litchfield last Wednesday.
The idea of playing games with playoff implications in August seemed like a long shot for the Alexandria Beetles through much of this summer. A team ERA that sat around 6.50 and a 13-22 first-half record didn't leave a lot of reason for optimism. Thirty-eight runs allowed through a four-game losing streak only added to the frustration heading into the all-star break last week. That's why a three-day reprieve couldn't have come at a better time for this team. The Beetles used the all-star break to take a deep breath and get away from the game.
Alexandria head girls' soccer coach Tom Roos knew eight years ago how he could make his annual summer soccer camp a unique experience for his athletes. The key was adding a little star power. Roos has hosted his camp for junior high and senior high girl players along with elementary-age kids for 12 years now. Four years into that, he added another dimension to it by bringing in former professional players and some of the top coaches in the Midwest.
The Alexandria VFW II baseball team had a win in its grasp before things slipped away on Tuesday night. The seventh-seeded team in the District 5 tournament played its counterparts from Alexandria as the second-seeded VFW I team escaped a scare with a 5-3 win at Knute Nelson Field. "It was a good night for Alexandria baseball," VFW I coach Jake Munsch said. "Two teams competing like that, you can't ask for a better game for the fans and players to be a part of. It was a good game and good to see for Alexandria baseball. Those guys played an outstanding game.
You hear about Canadian fishing trips and their potential for creating memories that will last a lifetime - last week I got to experience that. The first and only time I went to Cedar Lake near Grand Rapids, Manitoba I caught a 44-inch northern that remains the biggest fish I have ever caught. That's why I was so excited to be heading back there for four days of fishing with my dad and longtime friend, Jacob Busiahn. But it wasn't big northerns that this trip would be remembered for. Instead, it was a walleye bite that was the best any of us had ever seen. We hit the road at 5 a.m.
Alexandria's Matt Hoelscher has known he wanted to be a head coach since his days playing for former Cardinal boys' basketball coach John Holsten at Jefferson High School. Now at age 31, Hoelscher will get that chance after taking over as the head boys' basketball coach in Osakis. Chris Stroup opened the door for him with his decision to step away this past spring after leading the Silverstreaks for 10 seasons. It was a door Hoelscher was happy to walk through. "It's always on my mind anytime I watch a game," he said last week, "whether it's NBA or college.