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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The Fat Daddy's Alexandria American Legion Post 87 baseball team ran its winning streak to six games on Tuesday night with a nine-inning win in Perham. Post 87 got out to a 6-0 lead after half an inning and held on late for an 11-9 win. Perham battled back to within one run after the seventh but two scoreless innings from Logan Serum closed out the win for Alexandria. Zach Peterson, AJ Anderson, Erich Murphy and Jeff Swedberg all had doubles in the six-run first inning. Anderson finished 3-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs.
Sunday's 12-11 win over the St. Cloud Sox epitomized the type of games that the Alexandria Beetles have had to try to win so far this summer. The Beetles scored their 12 runs on 10 hits. They took a 12-6 lead into the ninth inning before having to sweat out a one-run win as 2011 all-star closer Anthony Bazzani came on to pick up the final two outs to earn the save. It's a Beetles' offense that has averaged more than six runs a night through their first 25 games. Where Alexandria has struggled has been from the mound.
Alexandria Beetles' second baseman Tanner Vavra has never let the fact that he is blind in his right eye affect the vision he had for himself on a baseball field. Vavra, son of Minnesota Twins' hitting coach Joe Vavra, was a three-sport athlete in high school. He went on to star in the junior college ranks at Madison Area Technical College for two years before signing to play Division I baseball at Valparaiso. Now in his second summer with the Beetles, Vavra is proving himself as one of the top hitters in the Northwoods League through the first month.
Alexandria's Jerry Amundson is up to more than 100 seasons coached in one sport or another over almost four decades. That tenure has included stints in basketball and swimming, but anyone who knows Amundson knows that he has made his mark by leading the Alexandria running programs during that time. He has spent the last 32 years as the head coach of the Cardinal boys' track and field team and three years prior to that as an assistant. After this past season, he decided that was enough.
This past Saturday, it was Joe Snaza's turn to do what seemingly every pitcher has done for the Carlos Cougars this summer. The Cougars came into their game against Resorters East foe Miltona with a team ERA of 1.29. Snaza then went out and lowered it to 1.12 with another gem in a 14-0 win that moved his team to 10-0 on the season. Snaza had everything working for him on Saturday as he limited the Tigers to just three hits through eight innings. He struck out 10, including taking care of the side himself in the seventh inning.
The Alexandria trap shooting team took fifth place at its home shooting park on Sunday as more than 900 high school shooters competed in the Minnesota State Trap Shooting tournament. The team from Jefferson High School finished with a total team score of 466. St. Michael-Albertville won the state title with a 483. New Prague was second at 474 and Prior Lake rounded out the top three with a 468. "I think we did good," senior co-captain Allison Lundsetter said.
The Minnesota Timberwolves made Alexandria one of their three stops on the 2012 Timberwolves Caravan on Tuesday afternoon. Forward Anthony Tolliver and shooting guard Wayne Ellington were the players on hand as they provided a free basketball clinic for kids at the Lakes Area Recreation gymnasium. I caught up with both players afterwards to talk a little bit about the reaction they are seeing from fans around the state and their expectations going into next season. Q: What do you enjoy most out of coming to these events with the fans? A: It's definitely the kids.
Those who didn't know about Wensia Johnson coming into the Class AA state track and field meet now have a better idea of the kind of talent this 8th grader from Alexandria possesses. Johnson was born in Haiti and came to Alexandria with her younger sister when they were adopted in 2004. Every time she takes the track, she does so with a little more on her mind than just winning and losing. "I always do it for my family and the people here," Johnson said after winning the 200-meter state title on Saturday. "But I always do it for the children there who don't get to have a chance.
Jamie Piepenburg doesn't have to settle for anything on a track very often. The Cardinal senior has proven over the course of her career that when she wants something, she usually goes out and takes it. Piepenburg went into the Class AA state meet this past weekend wanting to wrap up her career with two more state distance titles. Instead, she was forced to settle for third in the 3,200-meter run and second in the 1,600. "I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't get them both," Piepenburg said.
The Alexandria girls' track and field team is getting used to taking home some hardware from the state meet. The Cardinals finished second in the team standings for the third year in a row this past weekend after finishing with 49 points. That tied them with co-runner up Minnetonka as Lakeville South won the team event with 56.50 points. "I think it was a good showing by us," head coach Mike Empting said. "We had a lot of young girls there, and I thought they handled it incredibly well." The only seniors Alexandria brought to the state meet were Jamie Piepenburg and Brittany Ludwig.