Area Baseball: Cards crush Flyers state hopes – Brainerd Dispatch

ST. CLOUD – The Alexandria baseball program made the state tournament in 1972 and 1975 before waiting more than 40 years to break through with section titles in 2017 and 2018.

The Cardinals have been a constant threat in their section nearly every year since, and on Wednesday, June 8 at St. Cloud, they broke through again after a few tense moments.

Sixth-seeded Little Falls (13-12) forced a win in game one after a 1-0 win in game one, but second-seeded Alexandria (19-6) bounced back and won the second game 14-4 six innings to go section title.

“It was something I’ve looked forward to since watching the bigger boys play in eighth grade,” said Alexandria senior Caleb Runge. “We saw them go state (2018) and I was like, ‘Man, I want to do that.’ We’ve been playing together since we were in fifth and sixth grade. We all made it through. In ninth grade, about 30 boys went to baseball. Our main group stayed together and it feels great because we are all family.”

The biggest swing of momentum all night came in the first inning of game two. Little Falls followed up his win in the opener by loading bases with nobody leading the first. Alexandria junior Jaxon Schoenrock initiated a 1-2-3 double play before a strikeout strained the bases.

Schoenrock went on to pitch 4 2/3 innings and hit eight before leaving in a 9-2 game ahead of Nick Levasseur and Parker Jendro, who finished it on the mound.

“You could hear it from the crowd after we left the inning with loaded bases and no outs. (Head Coach Jake) Munsch was really excited,” said Schoenrock. “I haven’t seen him this excited in a long time. I think that put the momentum in our direction. It kind of cheered us all on and got us going from the start.”

Little Falls third baseman George Moore places the tag on Alexandria’s Reed Reisdorf during the Section 8-3A championship round on June 8, 2022 at St. Cloud. Eric Morken / Forum News Service

The Cardinals took control at the end of the second game. Nate Hammerback doubled for his team in the first heat of the night. Grady Anderson followed with a victim fly to the right that picked up a run and Reed Reisdorf scored in a run to make it 3-0.

“It was sort of the story all year round, not letting adversities get in our way and continuing to play really, really well,” said Munsch. “They had all the momentum, the bases didn’t load any outs in the first moment. If they score there, I think it’s a whole different game. Then I had the feeling that if we were run over, we would open the floodgates. Something like that happened.”

JD Hennen hammered a two-out double that scored twice in the third. He came around to later at-bat an error from Little Falls that made it 6-0.

Alexandria knocked Little Falls starter Matt Filippi off the mound after Caleb Runge doubled in a run, and Lake Hagen followed with a run-scoring single to make it 8-2 with an out at the end of the fourth.

The offensive kept coming for Alexandria. Schoenrock added an RBI single from Collin Kray in the fourth before Reed Reisdorf doubled in two runs in the fifth. The game ended under the 10-run rule after an infield error by the Flyers in the sixth when a ground ball off Brock Lerfald’s bat scored twice after the throw escaped on first base.

The Flyers committed five errors in the second game and Alexandria combined that with 17

overall hit.

“In game one we couldn’t score in time,” said Munsch. “We threatened but in (game two) we just overpowered them. We managed the bases really well, exploiting some of their mistakes and taking every scoring chance we had. It wasn’t easy for them to be up or down the line-up.”

Little Falls won the first game behind a jewel by hard-throwing senior Zach Gwost. Alexandria fielded at least one runner against him in every inning as they threw up six hits. Gwost found a way out every time he struck eight.

The Flyers’ lone run came in the second inning when Alexandria starter JD Hennen was still finding his control. Hennen settled in and put up a strong five innings, leading eight before Levasseur played two scoreless innings to end it.

Little Falls pressed in the second inning with two walks and two hit batters. Junior Beau Thoma had the only hit of the inning when his ground ball scored down the middle in what turned out to be a game-winning run.

It wasn’t a position Alexandria wanted to go into game two, but neither was it cause for panic for a group that’s been winning big games all season.

“Some guys were a bit depressed in the dressing room, but (assistant coach Chris) Koep came in and gave us an encouraging word,” Runge said. “In the second inning, we put in three runs and said, ‘Okay, we’re fine.'”

The Cardinals earned their trip to the state in a competitive field. Section 8-3A featured three of the top 10 teams in Class 3A according to the QRF on Minnesota-scores.net in Willmar (#6), Alexandria (#4) and Rocori (#9). Sauk Rapids-Rice was also ranked 13th.

The Cardinals went through Detroit Lakes, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Willmar and the sixth-place Flyers to secure the title.

Getting through some good teams in these playoffs gives the Cardinals some confidence that they can compete with any teams they face in the state tournament.

“It’s like any other baseball game,” Schoenrock said. “It’s condition but we have to embrace it and have fun and enjoy the moment. We’re going to go there, try to compete and win and bring home a state title.

The Class 3A state tournament begins with the quarterfinals in Chaska Tuesdya on June 14th. The losers of these opening games play in Jordan on June 15, while the semi-finalists return to Chaska on June 15.

The Class 3A Championship will be held on June 17 at 4:00 p.m. from Target Field in Minneapolis.

“I think we can do a lot,” said Munsch. “We’re also one of the best teams and that’s why we’re going down there. Our expectation is to win baseball games. Win or lose, we’re so proud of these guys. They’ve worked really hard and what a great way to represent Alexandria who’s going back after a short hiatus where they didn’t make it.”

Little Falls ends its season with a 13-12 record.

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