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Moorhead Blues down Alexandria to force sub-state championship rubber match

Alexandria Zimny Insurance Post 87 will face the Moorhead Blues on Sunday, July 24, 2022, in the American Legion Division One Sub-State 14 Championship at Noon on Sunday in Moorhead, with a state title berth on the line.

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MOORHEAD — With a state tournament bid on the line, the Moorhead Blues showed some tenacity on the diamond at Matson Memorial Field on Saturday.

The Blues triumphed over Alexandria 6-2 in the Minnesota American Legion Sub-State 14 tournament championship to force a second game. The decisive bout is slated for noon Sunday.

The Blues played two loser-go-home games Saturday, each ending with a win. Moorhead defeated Detroit Lakes 6-1 prior to the championship game.

“I think we just went out and played ball,” Blues head coach Bryant Bergeson said. “Obviously it’s stressful, because you know one bad inning could be your season. But the guys are a pretty stress-free bunch, they go out and have fun and the chips fall where they land.”

Jacob Hendrickson led Moorhead, going 3-for-4 with two doubles. He said that Friday’s 5-3 loss to Alexandria sparked his team back to where they needed to be.

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“It lit the fire under us, when we needed to,” Hendrickson said. “We were having a rough hitting tournament so far, and today we kind of turned it back on and got back to our baseball.”

Brady Saari got the start for the Blues after missing some time due to illness. His performance on the mound was one of the keys to the Blues success, Bergeson said.

“He came out and threw a whale of a game,” Bergeson said. “I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Saari tossed six innings with three strikeouts while surrendering three hits.

Hendrickson knocked in the first run of the game for the Blues, scoring Wyatt Tweet from third base. Tweet had singled up the middle and reached third on a couple passed balls.

Moorhead scratched two more runs across in the third inning. Hendrickson laced his second double off the center-field wall, his second of the game. An error and walk loaded the bases for Moorhead. A hit batter and another walk scored two more for the Blues to push it to 3-0.

Alexandria responded in the fourth inning with Wyatt Mohr hitting an RBI double down the right-field line that scored Nate Hammerback. A costly Blues error allowed Hennen to score the second run of the inning to trim it to 3-2.

The Blues strung together a three-run sixth inning to solidify their lead. Moorhead received two free bases to open the inning. Zach Taft then hit a bunt single to load the bases.

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Justin Stalboegerer cracked a two-run single and Tweet launched a deep sacrifice fly, scoring Taft with ease. The Blues closed out Alexandria in the seventh to clinch the 6-2 win.

Will Suchy got the start for Alexandria, he pitched five innings before being replaced in the sixth, tallying four strikeouts, three walks and four hits. Alexandria head coach Jacob Munsch said he liked how Suchy pitched.

“I thought our pitcher did a really good job,” Munsch said. “They came up with a few timely hits and they came out with the victory.”

For Alexandria to have success in the rubber match, everything needs to come together.

“We just have to play the game the right way,” Munsch said. “It starts with solid pitching, no free bases and solid hitting.”

Alexandria finished with four hits in the game. Brock Lerfald went 1-for-3 on the day. Mohr doubled and Augie Gulbrandson went 1-for-3 with a single.

The Blues tallied five hits on the game. Tweet went 1-for-4 with a single and sacrifice fly.

Moorhead will enter Sunday’s game with steam, but making sure their bats are hot is crucial.

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“We just need to come out swinging the bats," Hendrickson said. "We got a guy on the mound that’ll give us a chance. So we just gotta come out swing and do our thing.”

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