If opponents are going to beat the Alexandria baseball team, they are going to have to figure out a way to hit what has been a dominant pitching staff this season.
Senior ace Carter Stockert has controlled his games to the tune of a 0.87 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings. He was dominant against St. Cloud Tech (4-12) as he helped Alexandria complete a doubleheader sweep of the Tigers at Knute Nelson Park. Stockert tossed a one-hit shutout in a 5-0, game-two win on Thursday.
“When we met after the game tonight and talked about what we did well, we didn’t mention Carter Stockert. What does that say about what you expect from him?” Alexandria assistant coach Greg Toivonen said with a smile. “He threw a 16-strikeout, seven-inning shutout, and then we laugh because you say, ‘Wait a minute, nice job Carter.’ A lot of these guys are seniors. They’ve pitched most of their lives, and they come out here and continue to pitch well.”
Fellow seniors Taylor Jendro and Riley Nelson controlled game one from the mound as they combined with a strong defense to stymie the Tigers in a 4-2 final.
The Cardinals have a team ERA of 1.35. They are allowing an average of just 2.2 runs per game, which has led them to an 11-2 record and a 9-1 mark in the Central Lakes Conference.
“One guy does something good, and another guy bounces off of it and we keep working from that,” Jendro said. “It’s as easy as that. Carter goes out and throws a good game, and somebody else comes back and throws a good game. More and more, it just keeps happening.”
Jendro got his first start of the season and did not allow an earned run through five innings. He walked five but struck out three and allowed just two hits.
Jendro credited his defense for helping him out before Nelson came on in the sixth and worked two scoreless innings for the save. He left the bases loaded with a strikeout to end it.
In game two, Stockert put on a show in front of a big crowd on youth baseball night for Alexandria. He was perfect through four innings with nine strikeouts by that time.
Stockert was given a 3-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Matthew Carlsen and Evan Lind both drove in runs, and Riley Simonson scored on a heads-up base running play from third.
Stockert’s only blemish came in the top of the fifth when the Tigers’ Sam Oster broke up the perfect game with a hard-hit single to center. He quickly erased him by picking off Oster at first. Stockert finished the night with just a walk and a hit allowed.
“My fastball was working really well again,” Stockert said. “My curveball was absolutely terrible. My changeup, I threw one all game. I just feel like I’m throwing harder this year. Maybe that’s it, but I’m feeling really good with my accuracy with the fastball.”
The Cardinals bunched their pitching together with some timely hitting in game two, as they opened the game up with a two-run fifth. Isaac Peterson got it started with an RBI single, and Andrew Revering did the same with two outs to add an insurance run.
“We know if we can get one or two runs, that helps our pitching staff out,” Peterson said. “It makes them a little more comfortable and makes us a little more comfortable in the dugout and as hitters.”
The Cardinals had 16 hits between the two games on Thursday. Evan Lind had a deep sacrifice fly, and Kade Loge just missed a home run that was caught at the warning track in center field.
“We feel like the last few games, we’ve been putting the bat on the ball way better,” Toivonen said. “Kade Loge absolutely crushed one tonight and it goes for an out. Against Rocori too, we hit some balls hard.”
With a week left in the regular season, Alexandria is clicking at the right time.
“We’re playing pretty good baseball,” Peterson said. “Tonight was a pretty clean night, except for a few minor errors. The confidence level has definitely gone up since the beginning of the season. We weren’t hitting the ball as well, but now our offense is coming around. Our defense has been solid throughout, so I think we’re right where we want to be.”
ST. CLOUD TECH 000 000 0 - 0 1 3
ALEXANDRIA 003 020 X - 5 8 0
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Carter Stockert - W, 7IP, 1H, 0R, 1BB, 16SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Matthew Carlsen - 1-2, 2 BB, RBI; Evan Lind - 1-3, RBI, 1 run; Isaac Peterson - 1-3, RBI; Blake Hoelscher - 0-3; Andrew Revering - 1-3, RBI; Luke Levasseur - 1-3; Kade Loge - 1-2, BB, 1 run; Josh Wegner - 1-2, BB; Riley Simonson - 1-1, BB, 1 run; Matthew Zick - 1 run; Dominic Schmidt - 1 run
ALEXANDRIA 011 100 1 - 4 8 2
ST. CLOUD TECH 000 020 0 - 2 4 5
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Taylor Jendro - W, 5IP, 2H, 2R, 0ER, 5BB, 3SO; Riley Nelson - S, 2IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 2SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Carlsen - 1-4; Lind - 2-4, 2 runs; Peterson - 0-3; Hoelscher - 0-4; Revering - 0-2, BB; Levasseur - 1-4, 1 run; Cody Richardson - 1-3; Wegner - 1-2, RBI; Loge - 2-3, 2B, 1 run