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Alexandria Red sends New Ulm to the elimination bracket

Staff photo by Jeremy Behnke New Ulm Junior Legion Gold’s Taylor Hansen races home on an inside-the-park home run against Alexandria Red during the Junior Legion baseball tournament at Legion Field in Marshall.

MARSHALL — Coming in as the No. 5 seed, New Ulm Junior Legion Gold knew that it had a battle on its hands against fourth seed Alexandria Red in Wednesday’s Junior Legion District Playoff game at Legion Field.

Gold got off to a fast start, scoring twice in the top of the first inning. But Red redeemed an earlier season loss to New Ulm, coming back to defeat New Ulm 8-2. The loss means New Ulm will play in an elimination bracket game on Thursday against Worthington at Irish Yard.

If Gold wins that game, the team will play at 3 p.m. on Thursday, again at Irish Yard.

Jordan Kuhrau led Alexandria’s offensive attack with five RBIs. He hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning that put the game away at 8-2. He also had an RBI double in the third and an RBI single in the fourth for the 3-for-4 performance.

Carter Simonson had a double and another hit and he scored two runs for Alexandria, who plays Marshall at 10 a.m. on Thursday at Legion Field.

New Ulm’s Taylor Hansen provided the early excitement when he drilled an inside-the-park home run in the top of the first inning that scored Austin Enter. Hansen also had a double for New Ulm. Kyle Seidl, Gavin Epper and Anton Freiderich also had one hit apiece for New Ulm.

“We knew they cold hit the ball really well, they proved that again today,” New Ulm coach Collin Helget said. “We came out today a little flat, we relied too much on our last game against them to translate into this one and I warned them that that’s not how baseball works. This is postseason baseball and any team can win on any given day.”

Alexandria hit New Ulm starter Carter Haala hard. Haala gave up five runs on 11 hits in four innings. He struck out two in the losing effort.

Meanwhile, Alexandria starter Grayson Grove gave up two runs in the first inning, but he settled down and didn’t allow another run the rest of the way. The tall right-hander allowed just five hits and he struck out three and he hit a batter in seven innings.

“I think we might a little bit intimidated before the game even started,” Helget said. “Early in the game though, we scored two runs and we hit the ball around so that was good to see. Their pitcher settled down and he threw strikes and he was a great pitcher for them. We sort of helped him out, we got a little anxious and we didn’t have the greatest at-bats, either.”

New Ulm got an inside-the-park home run from Hansen in the first with two outs. Hansen drilled Grove’s offering over the head of Alexandria left fielder Brady Swensrud, who threw his hands up signaling he lost the ball in the ivy on the fence. However, the ball remained on the warning track near the ivy and Hansen circled the bases.

Alexandria got a single run back in the first after Grove had an RBI single that scored Ben Scott. Alexandria tied the game in the second when Caleb Gimble singled to score Gavin Klimek, who led off the inning with a double.

Back-to-back doubles by Carter Simonson and Kuhrau made it 3-2 Alexandria in the third and Kuhrau scored on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Klimek to make it 4-2.

Alexandria added a run in the fourth on another RBI single from Kuhrau, and Kuhrau’s three-run blast in the sixth made it 8-2.

Gold now has the challenge of trying to come back through the elimination bracket with one loss. It won’t be easy, but Helget knows his team can get some good performances yet.

“[On Thursday] We got beat by a good team, and it’s playoffs and that’s what happens, but we have to come back [Friday] against whoever and be ready to hit the ball and our pitchers are going to throw strikes and the defense is going to make plays,” Helget said.

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