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Baseball: Top-ranked Mankato West survives huge scare from Alexandria in state semifinals

The Cardinals led 2-0 and drove Mankato's starting pitcher from the game before recording an out in the first inning. But Mankato reliever Tanner Shumski allowed just two hits the rest of the way, and the Scarlets rallied with two runs in the fifth to earn a 3-2 win. Alexandria will play in the third-place game later on Wednesday.

Brock Lerfald and Alex Dittbenner
Alexandria second baseman Brock Lerfald fires to first base for a double play as Mankato West's Alexander Dittbenner tries to break it up on the slide during the Class AAA state semifinals on June 15, 2022. Mankato West (25-1) rallied from down 2-0 to win the game 3-2 to advance to the state championship game on June 17 at Target Field.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press
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CHASKA — The Alexandria baseball team almost pulled off the upset against No. 1-ranked Mankato West on Wednesday in Chaska.

The Cardinals (20-7) led 2-0 through three innings, but the Scarlets (25-1) rallied with one run in the fourth and two more in the fifth to secure a 3-2 win.

Mankato West will play in the Class AAA state championship game at Target Field on June 17 at 4 p.m. Alexandria is scheduled to play in the third-place game at 5 p.m. in Chaska on Wednesday.

Alexandria jumped on a good pitcher against St. Thomas Academy during Tuesday’s quarterfinals, and the Cardinals did it again against Mankato West in the semifinals. Scarlets’ senior Alex Dittbenner had three hits at the plate on Wednesday, but he did not record an out from the mound before getting lifted for senior reliever Tanner Shumski.

Reed Reisdorf and Brock Lerfald singled to lead off the game before Caleb Runge was hit by a pitch. A wild pitch scored one run before a Jaxon Schoenrock single drove in another run for an early 2-0 lead.

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Tanner Shumski
Mankato West's Tanner Shumski pitches in the rain at the Class AAA state semifinals in Chaska on June 15, 2022. Shumski went all seven innings, allowing just two hits and striking out seven.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Shumski came into the game on the mound with the bases loaded and nobody out. He got out of that first inning without any further damage done after getting a 5-2 ground out, fly out to center field and then a strikeout.

Shumski was the difference-maker in the game. He went seven shutout innings, allowing just two hits and no walks, while striking out seven. He threw just 72 pitches, 51 that went for strikes.

Jaxon Schoenrock gave Alexandria a chance to win, going all six innings and allowing three runs, just one earned, on seven hits and three walks. He struck out four.

Jaxon Schoenrock
Alexandria junior Jaxon Schoenrock pitches in the rain during the Class AAA semifinals against top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Mankato West on June 15, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Both pitchers also worked through a near 30-minute rain delay that came in the fourth inning.

Mankato West took a 3-2 lead with two unearned runs in the bottom of the fifth. After a leadoff walk, a hard-hit grounder went off Nate Hammerback's glove at first base in a play that was ruled an error.

JD Hennen and Brock Lerfald
Alexandria shortstop JD Hennen, left, and second baseman Brock Lerfald run off the field after turning a double play against Mankato West in the Class AAA state semifinals on June 15, 2022.
Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press

Second baseman Brock Lerfald fielded the ball from the hole at second, raced to first base and slid to the bag but was unable to get the runner. Lerfald bounced up and threw a strike to third base to get an out on the lead runner trying to advance to third.

That could have been a turning point for Alexandria in the inning, but the Scarlets brushed it off and followed with three straight singles with two outs, a couple that did not leave the infield. Louis Magers drove in a run to tie it, and Avery Stock walked with the bases loaded to give his team its first lead of the day at 3-2.

Mankato West scored its first run in the bottom of the fourth when the rain delay was lifted.

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With two outs, Jace Liebl singled in Dittbenner to make it 2-1. It came on a hit to shallow center field where the Cardinals’ Will Suchy almost made a good running catch coming in on the ball as he dived to his knees before the ball bounced out of his glove.

ALEXANDRIA     200 000 0 - 2 5 1

MANKATO WEST     000 120 X - 3 7 0

PITCHING - Alexandria - Jaxon Schoenrock - L, 6IP, 7H, 3R, 1ER, 3BB, 4SO; Mankato West - Alexander Dittbenner - 0IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 0SO; Tanner Shumski - W, 7IP, 2H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 7SO

ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Reed Reisdorf - 1-3, 1 run; Brock Lerfald - 1-3, 1 run; Caleb Runge - 0-2, HBP; JD Hennen - 0-2, BB; Schoenrock - 1-3, RBI; Nate Hammerback - 0-3; Lake Hagen - 0-3; Grady Anderson - 1-3; Devin Cimbura - 1-3

MANKATO WEST OFFENSE - Ryan Haley - 1-3, 1 run; Dittbenner - 3-3, 1 run; Louis Magers - 1-3, RBI; Avery Stock - 0-1, 2 BB, RBI; Jace Liebl - 1-3, RBI; Luke Johnson - 0-3; Riley Bersaw - 1-2, BB; Shumski - 0-3; Talay Sartell - 1 run; Ryan Ploog - 0-3

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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