The Alexandria Post 87 baseball team hopes to be a factor in the district come tournament time, but a district foe made an early-summer statement on Alexandria’s home field on Tuesday night.
The Moorhead Blues swept a doubleheader at Knute Nelson Memorial Ballpark, winning game two 9-3 after taking the opener 11-1 in five innings due to the 10-run rule.
After winning the final two games of their home tournament this past weekend, it was not the way head coach Jake Munsch expected things to go for his team.
“It was not a good night,” Munsch said. “It’s a step back from what we did this (past) weekend intensity-wise. I felt we lacked effort in a lot of areas. We hope we can forget about it and move on. In the grand scheme of things, you lose a couple league games but it’s not the end of the world. What matters is the tournament, and we just hope we learn from the experience and move on.”
Game one was all Moorhead as the Blues scored in every inning. Moorhead tallied 14 hits against two Alexandria pitchers in Taylor Jendro and Dominic Schmidt, and Post 87 also committed three errors behind them.
“They had 14 hits, but our errors also gave them six runs that I counted,” Munsch said. “They’re a good team. You’re going to have to play well to beat them, and that’s how it should be.”
Alexandria’s only run in game one came on a hard-hit single from Isaac Peterson that made it a 3-1 game in the second inning.
The Blues blew things open in the fourth with a five-run frame. That was plenty of support for Moorhead’s Sterling Haphey as he tossed a complete-game and scattered six hits.
Josh Ballou got the start on the mound in the nightcap for Post 87 and ran into trouble in the second inning. The Blues scored five runs on three bases-loaded walks, a swinging bunt and a wild pitch.
Riley Nelson got the final out of the second inning. He settled in and worked 3 1/3 frames from there. Nelson gave up a two-out double in the third that Alexandria players and coaches thought was called a catch at the right-field fence. After discussing the play, umpires ruled the ball dropped for a hit that drove in two as the Moorhead baserunners ran hard all the way.
Alexandria’s offense closed the gap in the bottom of the fifth. Post 87 scored three runs as Matthew Zick singled in a run, Luke Levasseur hit a sacrifice fly and Blake Hoelscher drove in the final run with a bases-loaded walk. Andrew Revering stung a ball with the bases still loaded, but it was right at the second baseman for a force out that ended the threat.
Post 87 played a cleaner game after that second inning of game two. Peterson worked a scoreless sixth inning on the mound, and Hoelscher pitched his first inning of the whole spring or summer season when Alexandria needed an arm in the seventh. He allowed two runs on a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch in the next at-bat.
“Game two was definitely better than game one,” Munsch said. “I still think it lacked the energy and intensity we had this weekend. That’s what our team thrives off of. We don’t do anything super impressive offensively, so we have to rely on doing things correctly defensively and being in the game. When you’re lackadaisical in the way you go about your business, you’re going to lose a lot of games. Moorhead was here to play hard tonight, and we didn’t and you saw what happened.”
Munsch knows kids have busy schedules in the summer. Between work, other activities and playing four games in three days this past weekend, he knew players might be tired, but he wasn’t using that as a reason for not competing better against the Blues.
“None of those things are excuses,” Munsch said. “Moorhead just drove two hours, and I’m sure some of their kids worked today too. I think we were a little flat because some of our guys were tired. We had a long weekend and maybe there’s some fatigue from that, but if we’re going to lose, let’s lose with integrity, not because we lack effort.”
Alexandria is also experimenting with its lineup more this summer than it did in the high school season. Guys who did not play as much in the spring are getting chances to make an impression as coaches keep an eye on the future and what the 2020 high school team might look like.
Alexandria is 3-6 overall through the first nine games of the legion season. Post 87 hopes two losses to a good Moorhead team can serve as a learning lesson going forward.
“Moorhead is always a solid team. They had a really solid high school year. They had some phenomenal players, and they have a lot of things going for them lineup-wise with a lot of left-handed hitters,” Munsch said. “They’re always really good, and we notoriously play them really well. I’m not worried in the sense that I don’t think we can compete with them because I think on our best nights we can.”