The Alexandria Legion baseball team split its first two games of the state tournament yesterday with a 6-3 win over Lakeville North followed by a 10-6 loss against Excelsior.
These guys have found a way to come through in clutch situations all summer and they did so again in the opening win over Lakeville. Dalton Leuschke came to the plate in the ninth in a 3-3 game and drilled a three-run, walk-off shot.
"It was crazy," head coach Kevin Engebretson said. "Parker [Giroux] and Colin [Erickson] were on base when he hit it. It was nuts."
That made a winner out of Erickson on the mound. He gave his teammates another great start, tossing all nine innings and allowing just the three runs on six hits. Leuschke provided the offense with four RBI, while Giroux also chipped in three hits.
That advanced them to the winners’ bracket where they took on another team ranked in the top five of the latest legion polls. Excelsior’s Brian Joe had a great game with a triple and a double and Brady Williams hit a home run to help his team build a 10-0 lead.
Alexandria responded, scoring one in the seventh and five in the eighth to cut that lead to four. That’s the closest they got, though, as Excelsior held on and Alexandria fell to the losers’ bracket for day two.
"I thought they played awesome for being in their first state tournament in a while," Engebretson said. "We played two really great teams. Lakeville North, they were in the top five. Excelsior, they were in the top five and now tomorrow Eastville is in the top five."
First pitch against Eastview is set for 1 p.m. today, Friday, at Al Nyberg Field in Hibbing.
"We gotta hit the ball," Engebretson said about today’s game. "They like to run and bunt and try to turn singles into doubles, things like that. So we need to hit the ball well and hopefully score a bunch of runs."
Nate Nelson will take the mound for Alexandria. He is coming off a strong start in the district tournament where he threw eight innings and allowed just three runs, while striking out seven. It’s become a win or go home situation for Alexandria in the double elimination tournament.
"He gets a lot of ground balls," Engebretson said. "So we’ll see what happens. Gotta play it out."