Legion baseball: Alexandria rolls in doubleheader sweep of Fergus
The Alexandria legion baseball team was coming off a tournament in Fargo over the weekend where Post 87 went 2-3 in playing five games in three days.
Two more on Monday meant seven games in four days. Alexandria made it count by getting two wins out of the deal against Fergus Falls behind a couple of complete games on the mound from Carter Stockert and Taylor Jendro.
"It's really tough on our pitching staff especially," graduated senior outfielder Michael Kuhn said of the heavy workload of games. "We got a lot of guys who can throw, but when we have this many games back-to-back like that, we're relying on guys who really haven't thrown that much. We only had like four guys in that tournament who didn't throw, so to have (Jendro) and Carter come in and do what they did was pretty huge."
Post 87 beat Fergus Falls at Knute Nelson Ballpark 12-1 in five innings during the nightcap after walking off with a 3-2 win in the opener.
Kuhn erased Post 87's only deficit of the day early in game two. He hammered a two-out, two-run double to the fence in right center that made it 2-1 after two. Alexandria opened things up in the third with five runs as Mitchell Toivonen, Luke Levasseur, Kuhn and Thomas Anderson all produced run-scoring singles with two outs.
"It was tough to get runs all high school season, so we've been putting up a few runs here and there now," Alexandria coach Jake Munsch said. "It's contagious, and some guys who weren't contributing as much in the high school season are doing a good job here. Mitchell Toivonen is an example of that, hitting the ball really well. Two-out hitting is big, and we did it well tonight."
The fourth inning of the nightcap was another five-run frame for Alexandria. Braden Reisdorf had an RBI double and Levasseur drove in two with a single. Kuhn made it 11-1 on an RBI groundout and Anderson ended the scoring by beating out an infield single that scored a run.
Post 87 had 13 hits total in game two. All that offense made things easy on Jendro from the mound. He worked a clean five innings for the win, allowing just three hits.
"We really needed a game like that," Kuhn said. "As you saw in the state tournament, three runs over three games. We just couldn't get the bats going. We were kind of relying on our pitching staff, so to give them some run insurance was huge. Our bats are starting to come around, so it's looking like maybe we'll be able to do that some more."
Game one was moving along at a brisk pace as the teams entered the seventh inning after about an hour and 15 minutes of game time.
Stockert was cruising on the mound and finished with the complete-game win. He allowed just two hits and struck out 12 and had not issued a walk until the seventh inning. Fergus Falls finally pieced some at-bats together that inning as they drew four walks and added a single to tie it.
That set the stage for a Toivonen walk-off in the bottom of the seventh. With two outs, Matthew Carlsen hit a shallow fly ball to center that dropped as he raced to second. Toivonen came up and did not waste any time as he lined the first ball he saw up the middle to score Carlsen on a close play at home.
"That's usually my approach," Toivonen said. "If I get a good fastball I like on that first pitch, I usually go for it. He gave me a good one, and I just put a good swing on it and made good contact."
The fact Carlsen was in position to score was due largely to some heads-up base running. He hustled out of the box and raced into second base on a ball that probably should have been caught, but none of the Fergus Falls players converging on the ball took over.
"The message we always say is it might happen once a year, but the time it happens we better be ready for that," Munsch said. "There's a lot of people who don't recognize that, but we do as a team. We acknowledged his effort there and him being there allowed Mitchell to score him with an RBI and get us the win."
The two wins over Fergus Falls are probably more important than weekend tournament games when it comes to district seeding, but wins and losses in general are not always the most important part of legion ball.
"We still have goals," Kuhn said. "We want to go into every tournament confident. We want to come out with as many wins as possible, but at the same time in legion, we kind of come into this looking to have some fun. It's a lot more relaxed than the high school season is."
For many programs, the summer season is about getting more experience for younger athletes and traveling to different venues and playing a bunch of baseball with friends.
Alexandria got plenty of baseball in over the last four days and will head into a week-long break with the momentum of a couple wins before a doubleheader at Perham on July 9.