The Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers have gotten off to a nice start this season.
The Alexandria Beetles played a part in that as they were winless against the Lunkers in three games. Included in that was a 5-2 Lunkers victory Thursday.
But it was a different story Friday when sloppy play in the field by the Lunkers and a two-run, sixth inning double by the visitors' Chase Porch led to a 7-4 Alexandria victory.
The Lunkers lost for the first time in four games, and Mergen saw his record drop to 2-2 this season. The Lunkers outhit the Beetles 10-8, but committed two errors.
Beetles starting pitcher Erik Johnson entered with a 0-1 record and a 4.71 ERA. In 15 and 1/3 innings, Johnson had given up 19 hits and walked nine batters. The Lunkers were unable to solve Johnson as he pitched six innings, giving up four hits while striking out five.
Alexandria 7, Lunkers 4
Key: Beetles Erik Johnson gave up just four hits while striking out five
Overall: Brd 12-10, Alex 10-12
Next: Brainerd at Rochester 7:05 p.m. Saturday
The Lunkers loaded the bases in the first inning, but Mike Martinez grounded out to Beetle third basemen Jason Langfels to end the inning.
"We had early opportunities with guys on base but we just couldn't cash in. We were just trying to do too much. We had a couple of opportunities at second and third in the first two innings and we just needed a ground ball to score runs and get up early, but we couldn't get it," said Lunkers Manager Ryan Levendoski.
Mergen gave up doubles to Alexandria's Tim Roberson and Porch in the sixth inning. The key hit came off the bat of Porch who drove in two to give Alexandria a 3-0 lead. That hit chased Mergen who was tagged with two earned runs on just five hits.
Mergen was replaced by Trent Wood, who threw five pitches before leaving with an arm injury. Mats Mattson closed out the inning.
The Beetles were able to tack on four more runs in the eighth inning before the Lunkers finally were able to break into the scoring column. The key hit was a double by Nolen that scored Mike Martinez with the Lunkers' second run of the inning to cut the deficit to 7-2.
Brainerd created excitement again in the ninth inning as the Lunkers loaded the bases. With one out, Stephen Wickens scored on a passed ball and Justin Gominsky scored on a grounder by David Valesente.
"That's one of the things that I preach to these guys is competing, and that's what they have been doing the entire year and it's a credit to them," Levendoski said. "No matter what the score they are hustling to do the small things right and that's all I can ask out of them.
In the fifth inning Alexandria put two runners on base. Jason Langfels then drilled a hit through the left side of the infield and Alexandria manager Seth Maier elected to send runner Wes Patterson home. Lunkers left fielder Justin Gominsky threw a laser strike to Hunter Nolen, who put the tag on Patterson for the third out.
Alexandria 000 003 040 - 7 8 1
Brainerd 000 000 022 - 4 10 2
Alexandria: Erik Johnson, Matt Miller (7), Brendan Alvey (9) and Keith Castillo
Brainerd: Brad Mergen, Mats Mattson (6), Zach Taylor (8) and Holen Nolen
WP: Erik Johnson. LP: Brad Mergen.
2B: B-Nolen, Will Pimnica-Worms; Alex-Castillo, Tim Roberson, Chase Porch
RBIs: Brd-Michael Gedman, Nolen; Alex-Mike O'Neill, Vance Albitz, Porch 2
LOB: Brd 12, Alex 9
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