Moments before the first pitch was thrown in the Section 8, Class 3A championship series Wednesday the Civil Defense sirens blared throughout Brainerd.
The sirens, even though they were just sounding for the monthly test, should have warned the Brainerd Warriors not to take the Alexandria Cardinals lightly in the best-of-three tournament.
Heavily favored Brainerd had to rally from 3-0 and 6-4 deficits to win the opener 10-7 at Adamson Field.
In the second game, Alexandria bolted to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and rode the pitching of right-hander Mike Hoelscher for a 5-1 victory.
Section 8AA Championship Series
Wednesday, June 6
Brainerd 10, Alexandria 7
Alexandria 5, Brainerd 1
Thursday, June 7
Brainerd at Alexandria, 1 p.m.
The split forces a deciding game 1 p.m. today at Alexandria to determine the section's representative in next week's state tournament in the Twin Cities.
"We're fortunate this is a 2-out-of-3 deal," Warriors coach Lowell Scearcy said. "We get to come back and play (today), and let the chips fall where they may."
Seeded first in the South Subsection and ranked third in Class 3A, Brainerd appeared lethargic against a foe that was the fifth seed in the North Subsection and entered Wednesday's doubleheader with a 10-13 record.
"This is not what we came in to accomplish, that's for sure," said Brainerd outfielder Dan Kirkpatrick, who was 4-for-6 in the doubleheader with two doubles and three runs. "We came in wanting to win both games. We didn't want to play three games in two days. That gets tiring.
"I think we came into the first game a little overconfident, then we saw they could hit the ball pretty well and we had to step it up a little. The second game was just the most pathetic thing I've ever seen. Nobody's heads were in the game. We just didn't play like we know how."
Alexandria 5, Brainerd 1
Hoelscher shut the Warriors out for six innings. Through four innings he allowed just one hit and only two baserunners. In the fifth and sixth he stranded two Warriors in scoring position.
Brainerd ended Hoelscher's shutout bid in the bottom of the seventh on Mike Zauhar's RBI single. Hoelscher finished with a seven-hitter, one walk and three strikeouts. Kirkpatrick and Billy Tadych each had two hits for Brainerd.
Hoelscher has been the Cardinals' stopper. After the Cardinals lost the first game of the North Subsection final series Saturday against Bemidji, Hoelscher pitched them to the title with a 4-1 win in the second game. He snapped Brainerd's 13-game win streak pitching with three days rest.
"Words can't describe it," Cardinals coach Roger Johnson said of Hoelscher's effort. "The kid comes out with location and tremendous composure. He did a tremendous job. That's asking a lot from a kid in four days."
Alexandria seized a 4-0 lead in the first. Amos Hartsell smacked an RBI double. Dave Deterding followed with a two-run single and Brett Einerson with an RBI single.
In the fourth, the Cardinals went ahead 5-0 when Tom Steidl's squeeze bunt scored Branden Smith from third base.
Losing pitcher Adam Hardy went six innings, gave up 10 hits, five earned runs, walked one and struck out four. Kevin Mertens pitched a perfect seventh in relief.
Alexandria 400 100 0 -- 5 10 3
Brainerd 000 000 1 -- 1 7 0
Alexandria -- Hoelscher and Tripp; Brainerd -- Hardy, Kevin Mertens (7) and Tautges. W -- Hoelscher. L -- Hardy (2-2).
2B -- A-Amos Hartsell, Dave Deterding. Sac -- A-Tom Steidl. HP -- Hoelscher (by Hardy). RBI -- A-Steidl, Hartsell, Deterding 2, Einerson; B-Zauhar. LOB -- A 6, B 7.
Overall -- A 11-14, B 21-4. Next game -- Section championship 1 p.m. today at Alexandria.
Brainerd 10, Alexandria 7
The Warriors won by virtue of a six-run sixth inning, in which they sent 12 batters to the plate and scored five times with two out.
In the sixth, Nick Weiland ripped an RBI single inside the right-field line, Tim Siekas tripled in a run, Matt Means and Kirkpatrick doubled in runs and Tadych singled in another run.
Tadych's ground out in the second and J.P. Platisha's sacrifice fly brought Brainerd within 3-2. Weiland's two-run homer in the third put Brainerd in front 4-3.
Siekas finished 3-for-4 and Joey Tautges, Weiland, Means, Kirkpatrick and Platisha each had two hits for Brainerd.
Einerson was 3-for-4 and Scott Schmitt drove in three runs for the Cardinals.
In six innings, Weiland gave up eight hits, four earned runs, walked three and struck out three. Ben Winterfeld pitched the seventh, giving up an earned run and two hits before ending the game on a fly ball to left.
Alexandria 300 120 1 -- 7 10 3
Brainerd 022 006 x -- 10 16 3
Alexandria -- Keith Eckhoff, Eric Kehrberg (6) and Mike Tripp; Brainerd -- Nick Weiland, Ben Winterfeld (7) and Joey Tautges. W -- Weiland (8-1). L -- Eckhoff.
2B -- A-Brett Einerson, Mike Hoelscher, Scott Schmitt; B-Matt Means, Dan Kirkpatrick 2. 3B -- B-Tim Siekas. HR -- B-Nick Weiland (3). SB -- B-Adam Hardy. Sac -- A-Schmitt. RBI -- A-Einerson, Schmitt 3, Ben Evgen; B-Weiland 3, Siekas, Means, Kirkpatrick, Billy Tadych 2, J.P. Platisha. LOB -- A 7, B 10.
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