ALEXANDRIA — The sun was shining down on the water-soaked field which looked better than expected as the Alexandria baseball team took to its home diamond for the Tigers’ first meaningful game of 2014 on Tuesday.
The Tigers got off on the right foot with a 4-0 victory against the Muncie South Rebels.
“We needed a win to start out,” starting pitcher Blaize Kelly said. “We seemed to be picking up where we started off last year. We had some good defense out there, and I needed to come out and throw strikes.”
After losing five seniors who were key components for Alexandria last season, the junior-laden Tigers will have a new look but enter the season with high expectations which are reflected in being ranked No. 3 in Class 2A by the Indiana High School Baseball Coaches Association.
“We lost a lot of big boppers,” coach Jeff Closser said. “We knew coming in we might struggle at first until we get our bats going and until we see what type of team we are.”
The eighth-year coach said he will take advantage of his team’s speed by playing some small ball with the hopes of some power developing as the season progresses.
That philosophy was evident in the bottom of the first inning with the Tigers holding a 1-0 lead after Kelly hit a towering sacrifice fly to deep centerfield to score Jessie Gossett.
Then Braden Warren walked and was pulled for pinch runner Logan Clark who stole second base, and on the throw Jonah Jerrils broke from third and scampered to score the Tigers’ second running of the first inning.
Jerrils led the Tigers by going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles, a stolen base and a run scored.
Closser looked for his right-hander with a high leg kick to keep the Rebel hitters at bay, and Kelly obliged by tossing a complete game shutout, allowing three hits while walking three and striking out five.