Baseball: Alexandria Integrity Title Jr. Legion Black records 18 hits in home tournament title game win
Alexandria Integrity Title Black wins the 2022 Bernice Classic American Legion Junior Tournament; Alexandria Soderholm Family Insurance and Oral Surgery team goes 0-4 with some close losses.
ALEXANDRIA - For the second time this season, the Alexandria Integrity Title Junior League Black team has won a tournament at Knute Nelson Memorial Ballpark.
With an 8-2 win in the championship game over the East Ridge Raptors on Sunday, Alexandria won the Bernice Classic Alexandria Junior American Legion Tournament on Sunday.
“It just feels really good,” Carter Simonson said about winning another home tournament. “I’d say we usually have four or five errors a game, but in this one, we had zero. I feel like we play better in front of our home fans.”
With four wins in the tournament, Alexandria has now improved to 15-4-1 on the season. Alexandria beat Aitkin (2-1) and Marshall (9-2) on Friday and beat Elk River (8-3) on Saturday to win Pool A and advance to the championship game.
East Ridge defeated Blaine (7-3) on Friday, the Alexandria Soderholm Family Insurance and Oral Surgery Red Team (6-3) and Worthington (12-4) on Saturday to win Pool B.
Alexandria outscored its opponents 27-8 in the tournament and scored at least eight runs in three of the four games.
Cameron Marcado, who had a .087 batting average coming into the championship, led Alexandria on Sunday with four hits, including a two-RBI single in the top of the second inning to give Alexandria a 2-0 lead. Alexandria would later lead 6-1 heading into the seventh inning.
Marcado, who played in right field on Sunday, also had an RBI single in the top of the fifth inning and an RBI double in the top of the seventh to give Alexandria an 8-1 lead.
“Lately, I've been pretty struggling at the plate,” Marcado said. “I practiced batting for two hours before the game, and I felt good. I was really focused. It was kind of surreal. I haven’t hit that well in about a year.”
Marcado’s four RBIs on Sunday gives him seven total for the season.
“He's been questioning his ability as a hitter and I said to him, ‘I’m going to make you hit well,’” head coach Lee Backhaus said. “He said, ‘I’m confident in my defense,’ and I said, ‘I’m going to make sure you’re confident in hitting too.’”
Marcado had four of Alexandria’s 18 hits on the night. Sawyer Rumohr trailed just behind Marcado in hits with three, including two doubles. Brady Swensrud also had three hits in the championship game.
Moving forward, this team believes they can repeat performances like this.
“We can hit the snot out of the ball,” Marcado said. “Going into districts and stuff, we’ll have a lot of confidence from this tournament.”
Backhaus said that Marcado and Gage Castle are two of the many players that have shown growth throughout the summer.
Castle had three hits in the win on Sunday and four hits combined in the three tournament games before the championship. Castle has a .417 batting average, a .517 on-base percentage, 20 hits and 14 RBIs so far this season.
“He's got a beautiful swing,” Backhaus said. “He started in left field this summer, and midway through, he came to me and said, ‘Hey, I'd rather play center.’ So we moved him into center field. And he never missed a beat at the plate. He's just making contact and doing everything well.”
On the mound against East Ridge, Simonson earned the win in 5.2 innings. He struck out eight Raptors and allowed just five hits and one run.
“Simonson threw really well, and then Swensrud came in and closed it down for us,” Assistant coach Eric Waage said. ”All weekend, we had good pitching and good defense."
Alexandria's four-straight wins come on the heels of a 12-10 loss to Detroit Lakes on July 5.
“We played a game up in Detroit Lakes earlier in the week and had about nine errors," Waage said. "So pitching and defense is kind of everything. If we can do those things well, we can compete with anybody in the state."
Alexandria, a team that mostly consists of underclassmen in high school who are close to being upperclassmen, won this tournament without one of its leading hitters, Jordan Kuhnau, who has a .556 batting average, a .636 on-base percentage, 30 hits and 24 runs scored.
“One of the most impressive things about this weekend is that we were missing one of our top overall players, Jordan Kuhnau, who was away at a family event,” Waage said. “That's a mental thing where they could have kind of made an excuse of ‘we're just not going to be as good this weekend,’ but they didn’t.”
Waage said the team was able to win this tournament partly because of the flexibility of their lineup and in the pitching rotation.
“One thing that stands out to me is we had guys throw this weekend like Landon Raths,” Waage said. “He threw our first game and threw really well. He's very young and he doesn't have a lot of experience. So he's kind of growing into that role. Kasen Muscha started out this spring only as a catcher, but now he's kind of developed into a relief pitcher that we can count on. We've got a lot of guys that are really contributing, doing well and who are progressing.”
In a few short weeks, both of Alexandria's junior Legion teams will compete in the Substate G bracket in hopes of qualifying for the division one state tournament that begins on July 28.
Knute Nelson Memorial Park will host the Substate G bracket. The two Alexandria junior teams, Worthington, two teams from Hutchinson, Marshall, as well as Mankato East and Mankato West, will compete in the Substate G bracket.
“We tell them, let’s peak at the playoffs,” Backhaus said. “And I think they're really playing well as a team.”
Alexandria - 0 2 2 1 1 0 2 - 8 18 0
East Ridge - 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 - 2 5 2
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Carter Simonson - W - 5.2 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8 SO, 4 BB; Brady Swensrud, 1.1 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 SO, 0 BB
ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Ben Scott, 0-5; Gage Castle, 3-5, 2B, RBI; Caleb Gimbel, 1-5; Sawyer Rumohr, 3-4, 2 2B, RBI; Brady Swensrud, 3-4; Gavin Klimek, 2-4, RBI; Carter Simonson, 1-3; Max Hess, 0-0, BB; Cam Simon, 1-4; Cameron Marcado, 4-4, 2B, 4 RBI; Landon Raths, 0-1
Pool Play games:
Aitkin - 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 - 1 3 0
Alexandria - 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 - 2 4 1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Landon Raths - 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 8 SO, 5 BB; Kasen Muscha - W - 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 SO, 0 BB
ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Ben Scott, 0-4; Gage Castle, 1-4; Caleb Gimbel, 0-2, BB; Brady Swensrud, 0-2, BB; Sawyer Rumohr, 0-2; Gavin Klimek, 2-3, RBI, Carter Simonson, 0-2, BB; Cam Simon, 0-3; Cameron Marcado, 0-2; Max Hess, 1-1
Marshall - 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 - 2 7 0
Alexandria - 0 6 0 1 0 2 X - 9 13 0
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Max Hess - W - 7 IP, 7 H, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 SO, 2 BB
ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Ben Scott, 0-4, RBI; Gage Castle, 2-4, 2 RBI; Caleb Gimbel, 3-4, 2 RBI; Brady Swensrud, 4-4, 2 RBI; Gavin Klimek, 1-3; Carter Simonson, 0-2; Cameron Marcado, 0-2; Max Hess, 1-3, RBI; Cam Simon, 1-2, BB; Sawyer Rumohr, 0-0, R
Elk River - 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 - 3 11 0
Alexandria - 4 0 1 1 0 2 X - 8 13 0
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Ben Scott - W - 2.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 SO, 0 BB; Kasen Muscha - 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 SO, 1 BB; Caleb Gimbel - 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 SO, 3 BB
ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Max Hess, 1-3, BB; Gage Castle, 1-2, 2 BB; Caleb Gimbel, 2-3, BB, RBI; Brady Swensrud, 2-4, 1 RBI; Sawyer Rumohr, 3-4, 3 RBI; Gavin Klimek, 2-3, RBI, BB; Ben Scott, 0-1, RBI; Kasen Muscha, 0-2, BB; Carter Simonson, 0-3, Cam Simon, 2-3, RBI
Alexandria Red Team drops some close games
After going 0-3 (pool B) in pool play, the Alexandria Soderholm Family Insurance and Oral Surgery Red team faced Elk River in the seventh place game.
Alexandria kept things close but lost 4-0. This loss in the seventh place game was the team’s third loss by four runs or less in the tournament alone.
In its opening game of the tournament, Alexandria (2-20) fell to Worthington, 1-0, with the lone run coming in the top of the first inning.
Parker Converse threw 11 strikeouts in five innings pitched and allowed just three hits for Alexandria. Lucas Sprenger struck out four batters and allowed just one hit in two innings pitched.
Tom Kremer and Jaxson Bakeberg had a hit in the game for Alexandria.
Alexandria Red began play on Saturday with a close loss to eventual runner-up East Ridge, 6-3. Kremer went 1-for-4 and had an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning. He also knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the third while Jacob Wales knocked in a run with an RBI single in the third.
East Ridge put the game on ice in the top of the fourth with two runs, which were the final runs of the game. Both teams had eight hits in the game.
Sprenger had a hit in all four at-bats.
Abe Parjari started the game on the mound for Alexandria and had three strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings pitched.
Alexandria capped off pool play with a 14-0 five-inning loss to Blaine on Saturday.
Bakeberg leads the team in hits with 19 and has a team-high .373 batting average this summer. Sprenger has a .360 batting average this season.
Jake Munsch, who is the head coach of the Alexandria Post 87 Legion team, said on June 28, that he’s liked what he’s seen and heard about the junior teams.
“They're having a good season,” Munsch said. “They're playing a lot of games and are getting a lot of reps. That's kind of what summer is about. It's about making sure that we continue to get better and I'm very proud that we have dedicated coaches that spend a lot of time with those kids to try to make them better. That's all part of the piece to making our program successful.”
7th Place Game: Elk River - 4, Alexandria - 0
(No stats available yet)
Pool Play Games:
Worthington - 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 4 2
Alexandria - 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 2 2
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Parker Converse - L - 5 IP, 3, 1 R, 1 ER, 11 SO, 2 BB; Lucas Sprenger, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 SO, 0 BB
ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Lawton Ketelsen, 0-3, BB; Sam Anderson, 0-3; Tom Kremer, 1-2, BB; Jaxson Bakeberg, 1-3; Parker Converse, 0-1, BB; Lucas Sprenger, 0-1; John Botzet, 0-1, 2 BB; Cooper Running, 0-3, Abe Pajari, 0-3; Jacob Nicholson, 0-2; Jacob Wales, 0-1
East Ridge - 1 0 3 2 0 0 0 - 6 8 0
Alexandria - 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 - 3 8 0
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Abe Pajari - L - 3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 SO, 3 BB; Lawton Ketelsen, 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 SO, 0 BB; Jaxson Bakeberg - 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 SO, 3 BB; Sam Anderson, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 SO, 0 BB
ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Sam Anderson, 1-3, BB; Lucas Sprenger, 4-4; Jaxson Bakeberg, 1-3, BB; Jacob Wales, 1-4, RBI; Tom Kremer, 1-4, 2 RBI; Abe Pajari, 0-2; Lawton Ketelsen, 0-1; Parker Converse, 0-2; Caden Zelasko, 0-1; John Botzet, 0-1; Carson Holte, 0-2; Joey Van Roeckel, 0-1
Blaine - 1 5 2 5 1 - 14 11 0
Alexandria - 0 0 0 0 0 - 0 4 4
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Cooper Running - L - 2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 SO, 3 BB; Caden Zelasko, 2 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 SO, 4 BB; Jaxson Bakeberg, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 SO, 0 BB
ALEXANDRIA HITTING - Sam Anderson, 0-2; Zack Richards, 0-1; Lucas Sprenger, 1-2, Jayce Schoenrock, 0-1; Lawton Ketelsen, 1-2; Jacob Wales, 0-1; John Botzet, 0-2; Jaxson Bakeberg, 1-1; Parker Converse, 0-1; Joey Van Roeckel, 0-1; Abe Pajari, 1-2; Caden Zelasko, 0-2; Jacob Nicholson, 0-1