In Sunday's doubleheader in Alexandria the Blue Thunder and the Beetles combined for 29 runs and 50 hits as both teams split.
The runs came with a little less ease Monday as the Beetles came away with an 8-4 win in a Northwoods League game at Mills Field before a crowd of 413.
The loss, which ties the season series with Alexandria at 4-4, was just the third for the Blue Thunder in their last nine games.
"I've always said that Alex has the best players in the league," Brainerd manager Steve Abney said. "The programs they come from are very good and I think we match up well with them.
Alexandria 8, Blue Thunder 4
The key: Alexandria's Jason Cooper had three hits and four RBI to hand Brainerd just it's third loss in its last nine games.
Records: Brainerd 6-3 (20-20), Alexandria 4-5 (22-24).
Next: Brainerd hosts Rochester, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday at Mills Field.
"We have good kids and we have some good chemistry going right now. This has become a good place to watch some baseball."
The Beetles can thank designated hitter Jason Cooper for much of the offensive fireworks as he went 3-for-4 with a double, a run, four RBI and two stolen bases.
The game also had a few extracurricular fireworks as Alexandria's Jeff Tezak and a pitcher from its bullpen were ejected in the seventh inning for arguing a call. In the top of the eighth Abney was tossed for arguing a call after a great play deep in the hole by second baseman Joe Tautges.
"So far this year four coaches have been fined $250 by the league for criticizing the umpiring," Abney said. "We're not going to do that. Tautges made a great play and I'm going to stick up for my guy. An argument ensued and I got ejected."
The Blue Thunder opened the scoring in the third inning by plating two runs despite not getting a single hit in the inning. But that didn't mean there weren't any hits as Beetles starter Robert Dickman hit three Brainerd hitters.
Alex Bardeguez was the first Blue Thunder batter to get plunked by a Dickman offering. Tim Henry followed with a bunt, which Dickman fielded and threw to second to get Bardeguez. But Dickman's throw was off target and dribbled into center field, allowing Bardeguez to reach third. Tautges then drove in Bardeguez with a sacrifice fly to right field.
The hitting wasn't over as Dan Quinn and Chris Klabo were both hit by Dickman to load the bases and Markus Freiske drew a walk that scored Henry to give the Blue Thunder a 2-0 lead.
Brainerd's lead was short lived as the Beetles found a chink in starter Kai Tuomi's armor, scoring three runs on three hits in the fourth. After back-to-back singles from Tyler LaTorre and Doug Pickens, Cooper launched the first pitch he saw into the left-center field gap to score two and give Alexandria a 3-2 lead.
Brainerd's offense couldn't find its punch as it stranded 12 runners in the game. A number of times Blue Thunder hitters drove the ball deep into the outfield, only to have a Beetles player make the catch.
"The Alex players really made some nice catches," Abney said. "I though Kai pitched a great game but we made some mental mistakes where we didn't cover in the right situation. Take away the mental mistakes and we're OK."
The Beetles put the game away when they scored two runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth to give them an 8-2 lead. A Cooper two-run single highlighted the eighth.
Brainerd made a little noise in the ninth as Chad Weiss led off with a walk, Henry singled and Tautges was hit by a pitch. A Beetles error scored Weiss and with two outs Freiske singled to score Henry. But Alexandria relief pitcher Brandon Adams struckout Lars Davis to end the game.
Alexandria 000 300 230 -- 8 10 2
Brainerd 002 000 002 -- 4 7 1
Alexandria -- Robert Dickman, Brandon Adams (8) and Matt Rademacher. Brainerd -- Kai Tuomi, Brennan Garr (7), Chad Weiss (9) and Dan Quinn. WP -- Dickman. LP -- Tuomi (2-2).
2B -- B-Kyle Mura; A-Jason Cooper. RBI -- B-Joe Tautges, Markus Freiske 2, Mura; A-Tyler LaTorre, Cooper 4, Mike Metzger. SB -- B-Tim Henry, Dan Quinn; A-Jimmy Bacon, Cooper 2, Rademacher, Jeff Tezak. Sac -- B-Henry, Tautges. LOB -- B 12, A 4. Time -- 3:06.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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