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Junior legion: Schmidt pitches Alex Black into tourney championship

Alexandria Black's Dominic Schmidt looks in for signs from the mound during a 4-1 win over Blaine at Knute Nelson Ballpark on Saturday. Schmidt pitched a complete game, surrendering three hits and striking out three in the win. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)1 / 2
Alexandria Black's Kade Blankenship throws across the diamond for an out during a 4-1 win over Blaine at Knute Nelson Ballpark on Saturday. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)2 / 2

Tasked with taming the hot Blaine bats -- for a championship berth, no less -- Dominic Schmidt came through in the clutch.

“Dominic was dominant tonight,” Alexandria head coach Lee Backhaus said. “He pitches downhill all the time, keeps everything low. The umpire was giving the low strike, and he took advantage of that.”

In the Alexandria junior legion baseball tournament, Blaine came into the game having scored 11 and 10 runs in its first two games of pool play. But Schmidt largely shut them down on Saturday, guiding Alex Black to a 4-1 win at Knute Nelson Ballpark.

“It was fantastic. He did an awesome job,” Backhaus said of Schmidt. “Good pitching makes me look like a good coach.”

The win locked up a perfect 3-0 pool play run for Alexandria. They opened with a 13-12 win over Elk River on Friday, then topped Marshall 7-4 early Saturday.

And in the finale, the pair of 2-0 teams met, the winner off to Sunday’s championship game.

Alex Black had to come from behind, as Blaine grabbed a 1-0 lead through an RBI double in the third inning. But the score quickly evened in the bottom half of the frame, as Matthew Zick knocked a two-out double to plate Andrew Revering.

And in the fourth, Alexandria put up three more behind Wyatt Snitker. After a Cody Richardson bunt put two runners in scoring position, Snitker singled them both in, and then later scored on himself for a 4-1 game.

“It’s all those little things,” Backhaus said. “The key to that whole inning was Richardson’s bunt. First and second, nobody out. He struggled on the first pitch, but (later) laid down a perfect bunt. It led to three runs.”

Schmidt did the rest, going the distance and facing the minimum over the final two innings. He gave up just three hits throughout his complete game, and with a pair of strikeouts in a 1-2-3 seventh, he booked Alexandria’s reservation in Sunday’s championship matchup.

Alex Black will face Elk River, who went 3-0 in pool play with a combined score of 29-5, at 3:30 p.m. at Knute Nelson Ballpark.

“We’ve got to keep our level of intensity and focus exactly the same,” said Backhaus. “We have a tendency to kind of sit back and wait a couple innings to see where we’re playing. This game, tonight, right from the first pitch we were ready to go. Down to the last pitch.”

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Micah Friez

Micah Friez is a sports reporter for the Echo Press in Alexandria. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Alexandria area sports updates and jokes he thinks are funny.

(320) 763-1230
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