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Junior legion: Revering, Alex Black walk off with tourney title

Behind a cloud of dust, Alexandria Black's Andrew Revering slides into home for the game-winning run in a 4-3 win over Elk River on Sunday in the Alexandria junior legion baseball tournament at Knute Nelson Ballpark. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)1 / 3
Alexandria Black's Kade Blankenship (right) races home as head coach Lee Backhaus waves him in during a 4-3 win over Elk River on Sunday in the Alexandria junior legion baseball tournament at Knute Nelson Ballpark. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)2 / 3
Alexandria Black's Wyatt Snitker makes a throw to first base during a 4-3 win over Elk River on Sunday in the Alexandria junior legion baseball tournament at Knute Nelson Ballpark. (Micah Friez / Echo Press)3 / 3

Not much was falling in favor of the Alexandria Black junior legion baseball team on Sunday.

“I feel our coaches’ job is to keep them positive,” head coach Lee Backhaus said. “It’s easy at this age for a kid to get down on themselves when they strike out or when they make an out they think they shouldn’t have. We just have to keep jacking them up and saying, ‘We’ll get them the next time.’

“And that’s what they did.”

Breaking a spell of 11 straight batters retired in order, Alex broke through against Elk River with two runs in the sixth inning to take a 3-2 lead in the championship game of its home tournament at Knute Nelson Ballpark.

And even when Elk River tied it back up at 3-3 in the seventh, Alexandria produced the title-winning run in the bottom half of the inning for a dramatic 4-3 win.

“We just didn’t give up today,” said Andrew Revering, who scored the winning run. “Elk River is a really good team, and I think that helped us stay in the game the whole time. We knew that they weren’t going to give up, so we can’t either… We just stuck with it, and it worked out.”

Revering reached in the bottom of the seventh on a strikeout with a wild pitch. Representing the winning run, he advanced to second on an error and to third on a walk.

And 90 feet from home, Revering raced home on a wild pitch and dove in head-first for the walk-off winner.

“I saw it went under the catcher’s legs and I took off,” said Revering. “That backstop is pretty bouncy and it got back to him quick, so I thought it was going to be really close… I’m really glad that I took a big (secondary) lead.”

Revering started the game on the mound, as well, shutting down Elk River through three innings. It allowed for a 1-0 edge after he doubled at the plate and scored in the first. But he ran into a bit of pitching trouble in the fourth, as Elk River evened the game at 1-1 through a suicide squeeze.

Elk River used the momentum to scratch across another run in the fifth, swinging the score to 2-1 in their favor. The score held while the Alex offense was shut down, but the advantage flipped once more when the bats returned to life in the sixth.

Wyatt Snitker and Tate Breitkreutz came through with back-to-back RBI hits, and Alexandria posted a 3-2 lead. Elk River worked back into a tie in the top of the seventh, but Alex relief pitcher Riley Simonson escaped further damage by leaving the bases loaded.

“To get out of that bases-loaded mess with a tie game, we knew our job was to push a run across and go home victorious,” said Backhaus. “They were ready to go right away.”

It set the stage for Revering, who delivered with the walk-off run and sent off Alex Black as 4-3 winners.

“Our heads were there today. Mentally, we were prepared and that helped a lot,” said Revering. “We just stuck with it, which is always good.”

Alexandria will return to the diamond at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 11, for a meeting with Bemidji at Knute Nelson Ballpark. And they’ll be fresh off their championship run.

“We got a team effort in the end. We came through with the clutch hits when we needed them,” Backhaus said. “These guys are starting to come together.”

ELK RIVER 000 110 1 - 3 8 3

ALEXANDRIA 100 002 1 - 4 5 1

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.

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