Baseball: Alexandria hands No. 10 Rocori its first section loss of the year
Last week, Rocori defeated Alexandria, thanks to a big fifth inning. But this week, Alexandria earned a big section win to kick off the final week of the regular season.
ALEXANDRIA - When the Alexandria baseball team traveled to Cold Spring to face Rocori on May 16, 2023, it was No. 10 Rocori who got the win by a 10-6 final.
But Alexandria flipped the script on Monday with good hitting and poise on defense, winning 8-5.
"I don't think this game was all that much different than when we played them last week," Alexandria head coach Jake Munsch said. "They hit a big grand slam in that one, and both teams battle back and forth against each other. I was impressed with how we played. There was a lot of energy offensively, and we were clicking."
"We lost to them a high-scoring game last week, which sucked, but we knew we could go in and beat them," Alexandria senior center fielder/pitcher Jaxon Schoenrock said. "We had to come with energy, and we did."
Alexandria (10-7, 6-1 Section 8AAA) came into the night as the fourth-highest-rated team in the section out of six, and Rocori (11-6, 5-1 Section 8AAA) stood at No. 1 in the section.
"There a lot of energy every time we play them, and you could feel it here," Munsch said. "It's a playoff atmosphere," Munsch said. "I truly respect their program a tremendous amount. This was overall a very fun night at the park to watch a game."
Rocori, who is ranked No. 10 in Class AAA by the Minnesota High School Baseball Coaches Association, scored the first run of the game in the first inning.
However, Alexandria punched back and held a 3-1 lead after the third inning thanks to strong efforts like the one from senior shortstop Tyler Kludt and junior designated hitter Caleb Gimbel, who hit a 2-RBI double in the bottom of the third, which broke a 1-1 tie.
Kludt had a couple of hits in the game and scored two of Alexandria's first three runs.
"Tyler is a freak athlete," Munsch said. "He can make plays that a lot of other people can't. Obviously, his biggest asset is his legs, beating out that play in the hole, making the plays in the field, and not letting things bother him. He's been in a lot of big games, and you can probably see that he's just super composed. We're blessed to have him as a shortstop.
Rocori pressured Alexandria in the first four innings, but Schoenrock and company got the job done and limited the Spartans' runs early.
"We had some plays in the field, and things got windier in the later innings as well," Schoenrock said. "We made some clutch plays in the infield when we needed it."
The Cardinals opened things up in the bottom of the fourth inning with five runs as senior outfielder/pitcher Spencer Schmidt hit an RBI single, junior third baseman Jordan Kuhnau hit an RBI double, Schoenrock hit an RBI single, and one more came across on an error.
Rocori fought back, though, in the top of the fifth by plating three runs to cut Alexandria's lead to 8-5.
But senior Max Hess and the Alexandria defense shut down Rocori and earned a big win to start the final week of the regular season.
Schoenrock earned the win on the mound for the Cardinals and got them out of some tough jams.
"When I started, I was feeling good," Schoenrock said. "And then I started to get into some control trouble, but I battled through it. And then Max came in and shut the door. He did an amazing job."
"Jackson has always been a battler," Munsch said. "The defense played well behind him, and the offense picked him up. Max came in and did a really good job behind him, and a really tough situation. Max handled it very well. That's only going to give him more confidence as we go down the stretch here."
With this win, Schoenrock, who is going to play college baseball at Dakota County Technical College starting next school year, is tied in wins with fellow future DCTC player, senior pitcher/shortstop Matthew Hornstein.
The Cardinals have a busy end to the regular season as they host a non-conference/non-section doubleheader against No. 9 Princeton (12-3) on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and round out their regular with a battle against Little Falls (11-4, 3-0 Section 8AAA) on Thursday at 5 p.m. at home.
"We have to limit our mistakes and take advantage of theirs," Munsch said. "We took advantage of Rocori's mistakes here. "Our pitchers need to continue to throw strikes. I mean, the game is simple, right? You just got to throw the ball where it needs to be thrown and hit the ball where other kids aren't. That's as simple as it gets. And hopefully, we can do that, and all the chips fall in our benefit."
Rocori - 1 0 0 1 3 0 0 - 5 6 5
Alexandria - 1 0 2 5 0 0 X - 8 9 2
(Full stats not yet available)