Congrats to the Alexandria Legion baseball team on another terrific season and an outstanding effort at the 2012 State Tournament!
See attached letter above. Still looking forward to working with the kids and parents in some capacity this summer and down the road. I feel very blessed for the 9 total years I've had with Alexandria Legion Baseball as a player and coach! Here's to many, many more as a fan and a supporter! Thanks to everyone who has been a part of it all... Enge
2012 State Legion Baseball Tournament – Finalized
The Fat Daddy’s Alexandria American Legion Post 87 baseball team wrapped up its 2012 summer season with an excellent showing at the State Tournament, defeating Chaska 4-2 in the opening round before falling to #4 Edina and #5 Eden Prairie in a pair of one run games. We hung right with the best in the state all the way to the end, and it was fun to see our guys leave it all out on the field. The tournament was a great opportunity for our guys, and they showed that they can play with the best of the best. Pitching was once again fantastic – as it has been all season – as we only allowed six earned runs in 27 innings of play down in Chaska against some really high caliber teams. Although we would have liked to have gotten one or both of the big dogs from The Cities, it was an outstanding effort by all of our guys… and they definitely have a lot to be proud of about the way they played throughout the weekend. Great teams, great baseball, great ballpark, and a great experience for everyone involved.
Alexandria 4 Chaska 2
Alexandria opened up the State Tournament at Athletic Park in Chaska with an exciting 4-2 win over the host team. The game was tied up at 2-2 all the way into the ninth inning, but Post 87 was able to scratch a couple runs across and pull it off in the end. Chaska got things going early in the second inning as a batter reached on an error, and three consecutive singles brought him in to make it 1-0. It could have been worse, but Alexandria came up with a huge defensive play with one out as AJ Anderson fielded a ground ball, touched first, and fired home to Pat Leary who applied a tag on a bang-bang play for a nifty double play to halt any more damage. Post 87 answered right away in the top of the third, as Knoblach used his speed to reach on a throwing error by the Chaska third baseman. After he swiped second, Grant Becker bunted him over to third, and Zach Peterson drove him in with an RBI single up the middle to knot it up at 1-1. Chaska came right back in the bottom half of the third as a double and an RBI single gave it the lead right back at 2-1, but it starting pitcher Beau Backhaus cruised on the mound from there. From that point on, he gave up just two base hits and did not allow a runner to cross home plate.
The Alexandria offense was crawling for much of the game, but it got a big two-out rally going in the seventh. Swedberg laid down a beautiful drag bunt, got to second on a wild pitch, and picked up third with a great read on a ball in the dirt. Knoblach walked to make it first and third with Becker stepping to the plate. He hit a ball to the backhand side of the shortstop, and with Knoblach hustling to second, Chaska was unable to get the third out and Swedberg scored on the play to make it 2-2. It would stay right there into the top of the ninth when Alexandria dug deep for a little magic. With one out, Swedberg was again the spark as he ripped a shot off the top of the left field wall for a double. Knoblach followed with a ground ball single through the left side to make it first and third, still with one out. Becker then came up with the biggest offensive play of the game, as he and the base-runners executed a perfect safety squeeze to plate the go-ahead run in Swedberg to make it 3-2. Becker also reached first base on the play as the second baseman was unable to react and was late to cover.
It was a great situation for us with speed on the bases and a good bunter up at the plate. This is something we have done quite a bit this summer in this exact same situation, and the guys get all the credit for executing it to perfection. It was definitely a really fun moment in the game for us. Peterson then hit a deep fly ball to left field, and the fielder was unable to catch and transfer… causing another exciting play to ensue. The ball was ruled a drop, so Knoblach took off hard to third and beat the throw in. Becker was hustling to second and the ball from third sailed into the outfield. With an outfielder backing up the play, Knoblach trusted his speed and took off for home and got there just in time to beat the throw, helping his team to a 4-2 lead.
It was a really tough base-running play for our guys because we assumed the ball was caught, but it was ruled a drop. Everybody was busting hard around the bases and the hustle gave us a big insurance run heading into the bottom half of the ninth. In the final frame, Backhaus got the first batter with a huge strikeout… but a single and a fielding error made it first and third with one out. Beau was working hard and pitched a great game, so we decided to bring in Knoblach to slam the door. He did just that as he got the first batter to pop up to Becker at first for the second out. The next batter then hit a ground ball to Peterson at short and he flipped it to Backhaus at second to record the final out, earning Alexandria a big opening round 4-2 win.
Backhaus picked up the win in another impressive outing, going 8 1/3 strong innings. He allowed just two runs, one earned, on seven hits. He struck out four and did not walk a single batter. Knoblach picked up the two out save retiring both batters he faced. Both pitchers have been great up there with the ball all year -- getting better and better each time out -- and they did it again today. Outstanding effort by those guys to keep us in it and take care of business at the end. Post 87 was led at the plate by Knoblach, Peterson, and Swedberg who all had two hits in the game. Peterson drove in two while Knoblach and Swedberg each scored two runs. Becker, Gideon Burnham, and Erich Murphy had the other safeties for Alexandria.
The win put Post 87 in the winner’s bracket with a chance to play #4 ranked Edina in the nightcap.
Alexandria 1 Edina 2
It was a good old fashioned pitcher’s duel as Alexandria lefty Blake Stockert took on number 4 ranked Edina and did not disappoint the fans in attendance, tossing a beautiful complete game three hitter in a tough luck 2-1 loss. Edina is an extremely solid team, and they showed that tonight. They just don’t make mistakes, and make you pay for yours. We played them very tough and had our chances to knock them off, but in the end we came up just short in a tight, well-played contest. Edina got things going in the second inning as the leadoff man reached on a slow roller resulting in an error. A walk and a single loaded up the bases with nobody out. After a shallow fly ball, it was bases loaded with one out. Stockert then got exactly what he needed with a ground ball up the middle, but Alexandria came up just short on turning the double play to get out of the jam, allowing an unearned run to score from third to make it 1-0. That was a case where we’d like to turn the double play to get out of it. We couldn’t quite get it done and they made us pay for a run.
In the third, Edina was threatening again after a leadoff hit by pitch. After a ground out to short, the runner stole second to get himself into scoring position with one out. A base hit up the middle then plated him and gave Edina an early 2-0 lead. Stockert absolutely mowed from there as he did not let in a run, allowed just one hit, and struck out seven the rest of the way. Blake was really outstanding tonight. They’ve got lots of great hitters all the way through their lineup and he just dominated the game. It was extremely fun to see him go out there and compete on the big stage and play with emotion, and he got stronger and stronger as the game rolled along. He was really lights out and I am really proud of the way he competed and took ownership of the game for his teammates.
Meanwhile, Alexandria had its chances in the middle innings to score some runs. In the fourth, back to back singles by Grant Becker and Zach Peterson made it first and second with nobody out… but a botched sacrifice bunt and an inning-ending double play halted the chances for Post 87. In the fifth, a double by Erich Murphy and walks to Jeff Swedberg and Nick Knoblach loaded up the bases… but again Alexandria was simply unable to come up with the big two-out hit that it needed. Those were two really big innings for us offensively and we hoped to get more out of it, we just didn’t execute well enough and Edina made the plays. It was pretty tough to swallow, but we kept after it and continued to battle. In the seventh, Alexandria saw some light as Murphy led off with a single up the middle, and Pat Leary then got him into scoring position with a nice sacrifice bunt. Swedberg hit a ball through the left side to make it first and third, bringing Knoblach to the plate. He wasn’t able to get the big hit, but he got his job done with a very quality at bat… hitting a ball to the right side to score Swedberg and to move Leary over to second, cutting it to 2-1. A base hit would have tied it up, but the next batter popped up to the shortstop to end the rally and the last real good scoring chance for Alexandria, as it was sent down in order by the Chaska closer in the final two frames… making it a 2-1 final.
Stockert was a “Star of the Day” in the daily tournament write-up and for very good reason. The lefty threw all nine innings and allowed just two runs, one earned, on just three hits. He walked three and struck out seven Edina batters. It was a fantastic game on a big stage… very happy for Blake. The Alexandria offense did out-hit Edina as it had seven hits in the contest, led by Murphy who had a nice day at the plate collecting three hits, including a double and scored the only Post 87 run. Becker, Peterson, Swedberg, and Stockert had the other safeties in the game, with Knoblach driving in a run.
We were right there the entire game. It was really just a bunt here or a big two-out hit there. It was too bad for our guys because they played so well and Blake threw a heck of a great game… but it was great to hang with them and have a chance all the way to the end.
The tough loss pushed Alexandria into the loser’s end of the bracket with a chance to face off against defending Legion World Series Champion and number 5 ranked Eden Prairie on Saturday morning.
Alexandria 5 Eden Prairie 6
Alexandria had the defending Legion World Series Champs on the ropes as it held a 5-3 lead into the seventh inning, but couldn’t quite finish the job as Eden Prairie rallied back for three runs late to take one away and hand Post 87 a tough 6-5 loss. We were right there and for a while it looked like we might just do it. We got ourselves out of all kinds of jams defensively, and we actually had several great chances in the middle innings to pour on some more runs to extend out our lead. It just wasn’t meant to be as we couldn’t quite hang on against an extremely talented and well-respected team from Eden Prairie. Alexandria saw itself down right away in the first inning as Eden Prairie scored two runs in a pair of singles, a walk, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly to take an early 2-0 lead… but Post 87 got those runs right back in the top of the next inning. With one out, Gideon Burnham drew a walk and took second on a wild pitch. Beau Backhaus then singled to with a bloop to center to make it first and third with one out. Pat Leary then hit a chopper to second, just slow enough to get himself out of the double play and Burnham scored to make it 2-1. Jeff Swedberg and Nick Knoblach followed up with back to back singles to load up the bases, and with two outs, Grant Becker stepped up and ripped a hard single through the left side to plate Leary to knot it up at 2-2. It could have been more with the bases still loaded up, but the next Alexandria batter popped up to the catcher to stop any further damage. Starting pitcher AJ Anderson worked a few solid innings and got himself out of some big jams along the way, allowing his offense to keep going to work. In the fourth, Leary led off with an infield single and took second on a ball in the dirt, and Swedberg then had a nice at-bat with a ground ball to the right side to move Leary over to third. With one out, Knoblach got his job done and hit a ground ball to short… plating Leary to give Alexandria a 3-2 lead. Post 87 would extend its lead in the fifth with the help of three very uncharacteristic fielding errors by the Eden Prairie shortstop. With one out, Anderson ripped a single to left… and back to back errors on ground balls loaded up the bases. Leary then hit a ground ball to short which looked as though it might be two to end the inning, but it again eluded the shortstop and went under his legs… allowing both Anderson and Murphy to score to make it 5-2 in favor of Alexandria. That was huge for us, as we know those mistakes don’t happen very often for those guys. It was definitely cool to look up at the scoreboard and see what was going on.
Eden Prairie came right back in the bottom half and threatened to cut into the lead. A leadoff walk and a double made it second and third with nobody out. Anderson got the next batter to pop up to the shortstop to make it one out. Another walk loaded up the bases, and it looked as though Alexandria might be in some real trouble, but all Eden Prairie was able to get out of it was a single run with a sacrifice fly to cut it to 5-3. That was big for us… a great job of damage control by our pitcher and our defense to keep the lead. In the top of the sixth, Post 87 had a chance to possibly bust things open and take the momentum for good. Knoblach reached on an error, stole second base, and Becker followed with a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Zach Peterson then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to get both runners into scoring position with just one out. The infield was in, and we actually had a squeeze play on where we try to score both runners with a bunt… we just couldn’t get it down in fair territory. That would have been a pretty exciting play had it worked. But it wasn’t to be, as the next two batters got out with a strikeout and a ground ball to short to kill the Alexandria rally. In the seventh, Post 87 had a nearly identical opportunity, as Gideon Burnham led off with a single and Backhaus reached on another Eden Prairie fielding error. Unfortunately, the next batter was unable to get a bunt down and the two batters that followed got out as well… quickly stopping another great chance for Alexandria’s offense. Those two innings where we didn’t execute unfortunately gave all the momentum to Eden Prairie. Right away after it happens, you kind of look at it and know eventually they are going to hit the ball and get some runs across on us. It was a great opportunity missed… but that’s the tough thing about baseball sometimes and everything really – it doesn’t always go your way when you want it to.
Eden Prairie then did what it has been doing for the last decade as it took advantage of the momentum swing. A walk, a stolen base, a fly ball to right, and another walk made it first and third with one out. An RBI single then brought in a run and made it 5-4 with runners on first and second, still in favor of Alexandria. AJ Anderson gave up the ball to his teammate Knoblach to try to get out of the jam and hang on to the one run lead. The first batter he faced hit a single through the right side to load up the bases. The three hitter than hit a tailing double down the right field line, staying fair by inches, with Becker racing after it. One run scored on the play, and a second was coming in… but a perfect relay from Becker to Anderson to Leary cut down the go-ahead run to keep it a tie game at 5-5 with two outs. With runners on second and third and Knoblach ahead in the count, a high fastball got away from the catcher and the runner on third beat the throw home on a bang-bang play to score and give Eden Prairie a 6-5 lead. Knoblach struck out the cleanup hitter on the very next pitch with a high fastball to get out of the inning, but the damage was done.
Alexandria couldn’t get anything going in the eighth, but it did dig deep for one last fight in the top of the ninth. With one out, Burnham reached on yet another error by the shortstop, and Christian Anderson was called upon to run for his teammate… doing a fantastic job in picking up second on a ball in the dirt to get himself into scoring position for his team… giving them a chance to tie it up. But Eden Prairie called upon its closer and got the final two guys out with a strikeout and a ground ball to third to end the run for Alexandria… beating Post 87 6-5 in a well-fought contest.
AJ Anderson battled the first 6 1/3 and left the game with the lead, allowing five runs, four earned to a very good hitting team from Eden Prairie. He scattered eight hits and eight walks, and got out of a number of jams to give Alexandria a chance to pick up a huge win. He struck out three in his no decision. Knoblach worked the final 1 2/3 allowing one unearned run on three hits, one walk, and one strikeout and was tagged with the tough luck loss.
Post 87 had eight different players collect one hit each in the game, with Knoblach, Becker, Peterson, Anderson, Burnham, Backhaus, Leary, and Swedberg all reaching safely. Knoblach, Becker, and Leary all drove in runs with Leary scoring twice.
It was definitely a tough way to go out as we had an excellent team on the ropes for most of the game, but it was also another very hard-fought game by our guys and I am extremely proud of the way they played throughout. It was exciting to see us battle with some of the very best teams in the state… the guys definitely held their own and then some. One break here or there and things may have gone the other direction for us.
The State Tournament gave our guys another great chance to showcase their skills as a team against some awesome competition, and they have a lot to be proud of. A pair of one run games on the big stage with powerhouses like Edina and Eden Prairie is quite the accomplishment for our players. It won’t always go our way with the wins and losses, but the guys battled and proved that they belong. They got an opportunity to play with the best of the best, they played their hearts out, and they had fun doing it… and at the end of the day that is what’s most important.
Alexandria Post 87 finished up the summer with a solid 23-15 record against very strong competition from across the Upper Midwest. As was displayed all season and into the State Tournament, it was pitching that got it done. Alexandria closed things out with an extremely impressive team ERA of 2.87.
I want to wish the best of luck to the seniors on your next chapter… I had an absolute blast coaching you up these past couple of years. You will all be missed both on and off the field. I am also very excited for the underclassmen… we’ve got a lot coming back, but we’ve got to keep working hard to get better -- nothing will come easy nor will it be handed to you. Get your buddies and get in the weight room… always ways to improve and grow as a team. If you want it… gotta go get it!
Thanks for an awesome season filled with lots of unforgettable memories…