The Brainerd Warriors have had their fill of Alexandria pitcher Colin Erickson.
The sophomore left-hander got the win in Monday's opening game in the North Subsection 8-3A tournament, tossing 2 2/3 scoreless innings in relief as the fourth-seeded Cardinals stunned No. 1 Brainerd 8-3.
Erickson was even better Wednesday in the losers' bracket game, retiring all eight batters he faced in relief as Alexandria ended the Warriors' season with an 8-6 victory at Adamson Field.
"We knew going in that he was only going to have about three innings so we had to try to get to the fifth inning," Cardinals coach Russ Hinrichs said. "I've got to give credit to (reliever) John Mohror (who went four innings) too. It was a day you could see that runs were going to be scored so we had to have a quick leash, a quick hook.
Brainerd Warriors catcher Nate Smolke tagged out an Alexandria runner in Wednesday's North Subsection 8-3A playoff game in Brainerd. See more photos at spotted. brainerd dispatch.com.
Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
"As a sophomore (Erickson's) got a lot of poise, a lot of confidence. He's a great athlete, a three-sport athlete. He did a great job in both these games against Brainerd."
In 5 1/3 total tournament innings against Brainerd, Erickson struck out seven, walked one and allowed one hit.
His relief bookended Alexandria's five-run first inning and three-run third. The Warriors chipped away, climbing within the final score after three innings but the deficit proved too much to overcome.
"You need three things to really go somewhere," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. "First, you need good players to start with, then you need to be healthy and you need to be hot at the right time. Alexandria was really hot at the right time."
Brainerd Warriors pitcher Nick Rardin delivered a pitch in Wednesday's North Subsection 8-3A playoff game against Alexandria. Rardin went 6 2/3 innings and allowed no earned runs and four hits, walked one and struck out two. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Both starting pitchers, Alexandria's Dillon Kelly and Brainerd's Ethan Branum, lasted one-third of an inning apiece.
Alexandria scored five times in the top of the first. Dylan Carlson had an RBI single, Karl Brezina a two-run single, and Ben Snaza a run-scoring double.
"The first inning we just couldn't get them out," Scearcy said. "To dig that kind of hole it's hard to come back. We did come back pretty good, with four runs in the first, and we could have had more. When they came back and got three in the second that made it really tough."
Brainerd scored four runs in the bottom of the first. Bronson Shepherd had an RBI single, Alex Korte a two-run single and Trevor Thompson a run-scoring base hit. Korte finished with three RBIs.
A three-run second, with all runs unearned, put Alexandria ahead 8-4 as Walker Giroux and Brezina hit RBI singles. Giroux, Brezina and Carlson each finished with two hits. Tyler Jensen was the only Warrior with two hits.
Brainerd Superintendent Jerry Walseth (left) congratulated Brainerd Warriors baseball coach Lowell Scearcy Wednesday on earning his 600th career victory May 16 against Willmar. Brainerd Dispatch/Clint Wood» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Brainerd added unearned runs in the second and third for the final score.
The Warriors squandered opportunities, leaving the bases loaded in the first and third.
In the fifth, with Jensen on first, Brainerd's Kyle Crocker appeared to have singled off the glove of first baseman Jeff Dertinger but umpires ruled the ball foul. Erickson got Crocker and Nate Smolke to ground out, ending the inning.
"Brainerd is such a good hitting team, they're such a good team," Hinrichs said. "We know they have such good pitching. We only scored 44 runs all year coming into the tournament. For us to be able to do this against a quality team like Brainerd, that's pretty special."
Alexandria 8, Warriors 6
The key: Colin Erickson pitched
2 2/3 innings of perfect relief.
Overall: Brd finishes 18-5
The Warriors' Nick Rardin was also special in relief. In 6 2/3 innings the senior right-hander allowed no earned runs and four hits, walked one and struck out two.
"Nick pitched well against a team that's swinging the bats pretty well right now," Scearcy said. "The first inning they got (six) hits. I was glad to see (the second batter) sacrifice bunt. It gave us an out at that point and I thought, 'Maybe we're going to get out of this.'
"But it was not to be today."
Brainerd finished the season 18-5 overall.
"It was a good year," Scearcy said. "Right now we all feel terrible, the coaches do, the kids do, and that's to be expected. But kids are resilient. I'm sure tomorrow they're going to feel a lot better. They forget a lot sooner than adults do."
Note: Moorhead won the subsection title, beating Alexandria 3-1 in Wednesday's second game.
Alexandria 530 000 0 - 8 9 2
Brainerd 411 000 0 - 6 7 4
Alex: Dillon Kelly, John Mohror (1), Colin Erickson (5) and Dylan Carlson.
Brd: Ethan Branum, Nick Rardin (1) and Nate Smolke.
W: Erickson. L: Branum (2-2).
2B: Brd-Kyle Crocker. Alx-Ben Snaza.
SB: Alx-Kreig Katchmark.
Sac: Alx-Jake Whiting, Jeff Dertinger, Walker Giroux .
RBIs: Brd-Bronson Shepherd, Alex Korte 3, Trevor Thompson. Alx-Carlson, Karl Brezina 3, Dertinger, Snaza, Giroux.
LOB: Brd 9, Alx 5.
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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