Alexandria’s Blake Stockert has put up some crazy numbers through his first three starts at the varsity level that has the Cardinals’ baseball staff excited about the future of this young lefty.
Stockert is just a sophomore but has pitched with the calm of an upperclassmen. He started the season at the junior varsity level but worked his way up to varsity by the way he performed on the mound. His numbers since joining the varsity rotation are pretty staggering – 1.17 ERA, three earned runs allowed, four walks and 33 strikeouts in just 18 innings of work.
Those innings pitched are a small sample size, but coaches feel those numbers are telling of the kind of stuff this kid has. Alexandria pitching coach Kevin Engebretson said Stockert throws a heavy fastball that consistently clocks in the low 80s already. He has a sharp curveball on top of that, and he’s working on a changeup and a cutter that he can use to get in on right-handed hitters.
“He’s got as good as or better stuff than anyone we’ve had in quite a while,” Engebretson said.
That was on full display against Willmar in the first game of a doubleheader on Monday. Head coach Russ Hinrichs said Stockert’s stuff was “electric” that night and it showed in the box score. He went the first seven innings of a game that Alexandria eventually won in 12 frames. His final line – 7IP, 5H, 1R, 0ER, 0BB, 12SO.
“He throws hard and he can hit his spots,” Hinrichs said. “Enge has talked about that when he’s calling his game, it’s kind of like a video game. If he wants it on the outside corner, that’s where he puts it. He’s got two really good pitches – a fastball and a breaking ball. I know he’s working on a cutter too, so it gives us amazing depth.”
The fact that Stockert is a lefty is an added bonus. The Cardinals had another lefthander a couple years ago in Colin Erickson who provided a similar kind of challenge to opposing hitters. Erickson is in his sophomore year at the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he plays baseball for the Bulldogs.
“He adds another hard thrower from the other side,” Hinrichs said of Stockert. “We had a lefty a few years ago in Colin who was tough from the other side. I think it’s still a matter of a left-handed pitcher, team’s don’t see that a lot.”
Stockert may get a chance to prove himself in the postseason starting next week. Alexandria was still awaiting the final seedings and Hinrichs said he would wait to decide who he would throw on Monday when they find out who they play.
Junior Beau Backhaus (1.39 ERA) and senior AJ Anderson (3.69 ERA) are upperclassmen who are the other likely candidates to get the nod in game one. No matter who goes, it’s clear that Stockert has added another dimension to a pitching staff that will enter the postseason next week with a 2.88 ERA.
“Pitching is our strength,” Hinrichs said. “If we field the ball and put it in play, we’re going to be tough.”