On Wednesday night, the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers pounded out 21 hits and scored 15 runs in a win at Alexandria.
As often happens in baseball, the tables turned the next game as the Lunkers were one hit by Alexandria’s Nate Smith in a 3-0 extra inning loss in the opening game of a Thursday night doubleheader. Anthony Bazzani came on in the eighth inning to get the save for the Beetles.
It spoiled a great outing by tough-luck pitcher Jason Forjet. Forjet proved worthy of his all-star selection with seven innings pitched and nine strikeouts.
Head coach Ryan Levendoski pointed out that Forjet is worthy of a much better record then his 2-0 mark this season.
“Every time Jason takes the mound you know that you are going to have a chance to win the game,” Levendoski said.
“Unfortunately we haven’t scored a lot of runs and his record reflects that. He’s pitched seven games and is 2-0, but he should be 5-0. We had too many strikeouts and didn’t make them make plays.”
The only hit the Lunkers could manage in the game was a lead off double from Tyler Wampler in the bottom of the sixth inning. Wampler was stranded on second as Smith set down the next three Lunkers batters.
“It’s been a common theme for us,” Levendoski said. “The sticks are warm one day but cold the next day. You have to tip your cap to the kid (Smith). He threw one heck of a game and gave his team a chance. He changed speeds well and kept us off balance for the entire game.”
Tied at zero going into the eighth inning, the Beetles’ Chris Fritts led off the inning with a double down the left field line. Chase Webb fielded a bunt out in front of home plate, but slipped trying to make the throw and the Beetles had runners on first and third base. Fritts then scored on a passed ball and a two run single by Will Fulmer later in the inning gave Alexandria their winning margin of 3-0.
Things don’t get any easier for the Lunkers before the all-star break, as they now go to Duluth to play four games in two days. The schedule works out that way because the Lunkers have to make up two games that were rained out in Brainerd earlier in the year.
Levendoski knows that the next two games can be a pivotal point in the second half of the season for Brainerd.
“I think it can go both ways. If we don’t come out and play our best baseball, we could be sitting in last place,” he said. “If we can come out of it at 3-3 and stay above .500 for the stretch run, we should be fine.”
With a strong pitching staff and good defense, Levendoski feels that the Lunkers will come out of the next five games in good shape.
“I think we are going to be fine. Our pitching staff is setup and that is the big thing,” he said. “Especially when we play six games in a row. It’s just a matter of keeping the position guys fresh so they don’t get those nagging injuries.”
Alexandria 000 000 03 — 3 6 1
Brainerd 000 000 00 — 0 1 1
Alexandria: Nate Smith, Anthony Bazzani (8) and Robert Case
Brainerd: Jason Forjet, Chase Webb (8) and Jon Crist
W: Smith. L: Webb. Sv: Bazzani.
2B: Chris Fritts (A), Tyler Wampler (B)
RBIs: Will Fullmer (A) 2
LOB: Alex 6, Brd 4