Alexandria's Travis Krueger hit two homers and drove in five runs in Sunday afternoon's final four game against Sobieski but it wasn't enough as the Skis held on for a 9-6 win to advance to Sunday's tournament final.
The Skis amassed 17 hits, scoring runs in five different innings. The Skis were a veritable hitting machine, constantly putting the ball in play. Of Sobieski's 47 plate appearances, only four resulted in strikouts.
Jake Kapphahn, Sobieski's No. 8 hitter, had a perfect game at the plate going 3-for-3 with a home run, a walk and a sacrifice bunt. Dusty Parker, hitting just ahead of him, also had three hits. Like Kapphahn, he also scored a pair of runs. Ben Hanowski and Josh Wenzel also scored two runs apiece. Hanowski went 2-for-4 and Wenzel 2-for 5. Both hit doubles during the game.
The Black Sox got on the board first as Krueger hit a two-out, two-run shot off Skis' starter Ethan Branum, draftee from the Fort Ripley Rebels. Neither run was earned, as the first hitter, Chris Curry reached on an error and was forced on a grounder by Matthew Carlsen, who scored on the dinger. The Skis answered with two runs on four hits in the second frame, led by Hanowski's two-bagger.
Wenzel's double led off the two-run fourth inning. Parker then found the hole between short and third. Kapphahn's knock to left plated Wenzel. Backstop Riley Hirsch dropped down a sac bunt and Beau Hanowski singed up the middle to knock in Parker. That gave Sobieski a 4-2 lead. Alexandria cut it to 4-3 on hits by Shawn Krueger and Colin Erickson.
Kapphahn's one-out solo shot in the top of the sixth made it 5-3. Then the Skis broke it open with three more runs in the seventh as the bottom of the order continued to inflict damage. The resulting 8-3 lead appeared safe, but Parker and Hirsch combined for one more insurance run in the top of the ninth.
Brett Savelkoul led off the bottom of the ninth for the Black Sox with a single to left. Branum then fanned Sox leadoff hitter Curry with his 103rd pitch for the first out. A fielder's choice brought the second out. Black Sox catcher Mitch Thompson singled to put runners at first and second. Krueger hit Branum's 0-1 pitch out of the park to put the score at 9-6.
Brady Burgau's double in the left-center-field gap ended Branum's day. Chad Weiss, winner of the Skis' noon game against Sartell, took over on the mound.
Shawn Krueger worked a full count and drew a walk. As Krueger was trotting to first, Burgau started toward third. Hirsch fired the ball to third baseman Ben Hanowski and Burgau was caught in a rundown to end the game with the potential tying run in the on deck circle.
Branum finished with 125 pitches over 8 2/3 innings. He hit one batter but walked none and recorded five strikeouts. He gave up four earned runs and a dozen hits to earn the win. Despite walking the only batter he faced, Weiss picked up the save.
Dylan Haskamp, a Sauk Centre draftee, threw 100 pitches for the Sox. He struck out three and walked only one, but the 11 hits he allowed spelled loss for him.
The Skis take on the Watertown Red Devils at noon Monday in Waconia to determine the 2021 Class C state champion.
Alexandria 6, Waconia 1
Two-out hitting and gutsy pitching proved to be a formula for success Sunday afternoon as the Alexandria Black Sox downed the Waconia Lakers in front of a large crowd of mostly Lakers' fans by a score of 6-1 at Lions Field in Waconia.
Lefty Carter Stockert cooled the Laker bats, limiting Waconia to three hits and one earned run over seven-plus innings.
Travis Krueger hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the fifth. He had two hits in four at-bats, scored twice, and batted in three to take player of the game honors. Mitch Thompson went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk. Brady Burgau and Eric Carlsen each had two hits apiece also for the Black Sox, who advanced to meet Sobieski in the semifinal round.
The Lakers scored first. With one out in the top of the third, Ben Smothers drew a walk. Jack Stoddard doubled him in on a shot that hit the fence in left-center on the fly.
In the bottom of the fourth Alexandria struck back with two runs on four hits.
Carter Savelkoul led off the fifth with a single. Two outs later Mitch Thompson hit a come-backer for a single, setting up Krueger's three-run shot.
The Black Sox added one more in the sixth on two hits and a Waconia error to complete the scoring. All six of their runs came with two out.
Stockert walked four and hit four. He allowed only three hits over seven innings. He struck out five in his 137-pitch outing. Dylan Haskamp, a draftee from Sauk Centre, followed with two hittless, scoreless innings in relief. He walked one and fanned two.
Sobieski 5, Sartell 1
The Sobieski Skis plated three in the first and one in the second inning in the noon game at Waconia Sunday and cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Sartell Muskies, earning a spot in the final four. Draftee Chad Weiss of the Pierz Lakers had the Muskies blanked through eight innings in a complete-game victory.
Beau Hanowski led off the bottom of the first with a shot up the middle. An out later Collin Eckman moved him to third with a single to left. Cleanup hitter DH Joey Hanowski drove both runners in with a double into the gap in left-center field. Ben Hanowski tacked on a single. Joey Hanowski scored on a fielder's choice as Josh Wenzel forced Ben at second on a grounder to short.
Jake Kapphahn led off the second with the first of his two doubles, this one onto the warning track in left-center. Skis catcher Riley Hirsch dropped down a sacrifice bunt to move Kapphahn to second. He scored on an error by Muskies first baseman Tim Burns off the bat of Scott Litchy.
Weiss scattered five hits over the next seven innings and the Skis added one more in the sixth. Ben Hanowski led off with a single to center field, took second on a Wenzel bunt, and scored on Kapphahn's second two-bagger to put Sobieski up 5-0.
David Kroger hit Weiss' first pitch of the ninth inning for a double to left. With one out, pinch-hitter Braden Dykhuizen singled to left, plating Kroger and spoiling the would-be shutout for Weiss.
Weiss finished with seven hits allowed, no walks and seven strikeouts in a 125-pitch effort. His control was impressive and he rarely threw a ball before two strikes on the hitter.