(From left) Dave Wagner’s son Ben, daughter Sarah, and wife Kim joined him in at the St. Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center on Saturday, Sept. 21, for his induction into the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame.
-- by Brett Kruschke
The only thing worse than losing a season-ending elimination game by one run is losing a season-ending elimination game by one run in which you must wait more than two hours for the final three outs. That’s what happened to your local nine at Jordan on Saturday, though, as the No. 2-seeded Tigers from the River Valley League fell to the No. 5 seed from the 13-60 League, Morristown, by a 2-1 margin.
If it’s any solace, Morristown completed its improbable run through the losers’ bracket, winning five straight games after a 4-3, opening-round loss to St. Peter to claim the third and final state tournament berth from Region 6C. Jordan claimed the region’s top seed with a 4-3 victory over Waterville in the championship game, snapping the Indians’ incredible 30-game winning streak.
Derek Dahlke was the only Tiger drafted, picked by the Indians along with St. Peter’s Andy Regner and Jesse Anderson. Waterville’s first game will be Sunday at 1:30 pm against St. Benedict, in Delano. The other state tournament sites are Maple Lake and Dassel.
While the ending leaves a sour taste, Matt Ruehling’s first season as field manager was truly a fine one, as the Tigers ended 19-9 overall with a 10-4 mark in RVL play. Final stats should be available shortly via the Stats tab at bptigertown.com.
On the mound, Nathan Herman led the team with six wins, Brody Curtiss posted a 1.57 ERA and Wes Sarsland topped the team with 39 strikeouts. At the plate, Tyler O’Brien (.359) and Curtiss (.355) were neck-and-neck for the team batting title heading into Saturday’s game while O’Brien owned the top on-base percentage (.447). Curtiss was the Tigers’ top slugger, at .566, with a team-leading three home runs.
Morristown 2 vs. BP 1 (Saturday, August 10, at Jordan)
Although Belle Plaine became Waterville’s 30th consecutive victim in its previous game, the Tigers felt good about their chances of winning a pair of games Saturday at Jordan to claim the region’s third and final state tourney berth. Ruehling handed the ball to Herman and understandably so, as the right-hander remained unscathed with a 6-0 season record.
As the old war expression goes, the battle plan sounds great until the bullets start flying. The first and third batters of the game for the Morries reached via error, with the first run coming across on a two-out, daring bases-loaded steal of home by Bryan Lamont.
Another defensive miscue by the Tigers in the third inning led to a second Morristown run, putting the pressure on our troops from the early going. Luckily for the Tigers, Herman took matters into his own hands and retired the next 11 batters in a row.
Team Tigertown’s first – and only – run of the game came in the fifth inning when Matt Schultz opened the inning with a walk. Schultz’s appearance in the game was kind of like a wrestler you think is long retired, but the next thing you know, there he is in the ring at Wrestlemania and the crowd loves it. Joe Hankins ran for Schultz and soon scored on an RBI double from O’Brien.
Herman gave up a leadoff double in the 7th, 8th and 9th innings, but he wriggled out of trouble each time – in the ninth, thanks to some help from reliever Derek Dahlke. The Tigers, who left 11 men on base in the game, stranded runners in scoring position in the 6th, 7th and 8th frames.
As the game was headed for the bottom of the 9th and Belle Plaine’s last cracks, the skies opened up and a two-plus hour rain delay ensued. Although the final inning was recorded as 1-2-3 in the scorebook, it was anything but uneventful.
O’Brien led off the inning and was hit by a pitch, but the umpire ruled he leaned into it and called him back to the batter’s box. He struck out. Carsen Ladd then dropped what looked like a sure hit into right field, but a diving catch wiped that off the board, too. Curtiss hit a foul pop that looked like the game’s final out, but it was dropped by the Morristown first baseman. A groundout followed, with the bubble of Belle Plaine’s prolonged hopes finally popping.
After stomping St. Clair on Saturday, Belle Plaine had a chance to clinch a state tournament berth on Sunday at Waterville. Instead it was the Indians doing the celebrating, taming the Tigers 4-0 en route to their 30th consecutive win this season. (That’s not a misprint: Waterville’s record is a gaudy 30-1.)
With Jordan claiming the other state bid from Region 6C, Belle Plaine is vying to secure the region’s final berth – along with five other teams: Blue Earth, Eagle Lake, Henderson, Morristown and St. Clair.
The 13-60 League’s Morristown Morries will face Henderson at Le Sueur on Friday, with Belle Plaine awaiting the winner at 11 am Saturday in Jordan. If the Tigers win, they will play again at 4 pm – and again in Jordan – for a state tournament berth. Should the Tigers not win twice at Jordan on Saturday, their sparkly 19-8 season will be over.
Let’s make a day of it Saturday at the Mini Met and punch that final state ticket! If you can’t join the fray, follow along at twitter.com/bptigertown.
St. Clair 2 @ BP 12 (Saturday, August 3 – 7 innings)
The St. Clair Wood Ducks are in their first season as an MBA franchise, having done quite well for themselves with the 13-60’s No. 3 seed. Belle Plaine, meanwhile, the RVL’s No. 2 seed, played its first season of hard ball in 1885. Not to get snooty but advantage, Tigertown.
With two games on tap for the weekend, Wes Sarsland got the ball first from Manager Matt Ruehling.
Sarsland gave up a pair of runs over 6.1 innings but looked sharp once he settled in, striking out five batters across the fourth and fifth innings. The left-hander sat down six in all. Clayton Meyer came on in relief and went the rest of the way, proving flawless but for a walk.
El Tigretown took a 7-2 lead into the eighth inning before catching fire with the bats, stringing together five straight hits and seven in the inning – with the final knock, from Tyler O’Brien, resulting in a 10-run rule victory.
Hitting heroes were many on the night, in what proved to be BP’s last home game of the season. O’Brien went 4-for-4 with a steal and three RBI; Josh Terrio went 3-for-3 with a pair of hit-by-pitches, reaching all five times; Jared Miller drove in three runs behind a pair of safeties; Jake Mercado went 2-for-3 with three runs. Derek Dahlke and Pat Schultz also had multi-hit efforts in the 18-hit attack.
BP 0 @ Waterville 4 (Sunday, August 4)
Brody Curtiss started on the hill for Belle Plaine, opposed by big lefty Dalton Grose. The Tigers knew what they had in Curtiss, and got a solid performance from the right-hander. They didn’t know much about Grose, but soon found out plenty including never to overlook a guy whose last name is on the home-field scoreboard (William J. Grose Field).
Waterville’s second hit of the ballgame opened the fifth inning, and a bunt attempt proved pivotal as Curtiss fielded the ball and went for the lead runner at second base but threw high, with both runners safe. After another bunt, sacrificing the runners to second and third base, Sam Stier delivered the game’s first big blow, a single, for a 2-0 lead.
The Indians struck for another run in the sixth inning, taking a 3-0 lead. Meanwhile, our boys were still seeking their first hit of the afternoon. Derek “Dale” Dahlke changed that with a single to start the seventh, but he was quickly erased on a 4-6-3 double play.
With two outs in the ninth and Grose still doing his thing, Curtiss spared the Tigers the ignominy of a one-hitter by stroking a single. Not that a two-hitter feels much better, but when you can’t get a darn thing going for the entirety of a ballgame, you tip your cap and you move on.
Jake Mercado and Nathan Herman split the rest of the pitching duties, with the former yielding the final two runs.
The No. 2-seed Tigers started their playoff push on the right foot Monday, dismissing the 13-60 League’s No. 8 seed, the Janesville Jays, with a 9-2 triumph at Tiger Park. Originally scheduled for Sunday evening, rain resulted in a one-day delay.
The challenge increases this weekend, as the 13-60’s No. 3 seed, St. Clair, comes to town for a 6 pm contest on Saturday. The Wood Ducks won in convincing fashion last weekend, compiling 14 hits in a 14-4 romp over Le Sueur.
Win or lose, Belle Plaine will play again on Sunday. With a victory, the Tigers will either travel to Waterville – which has won its last 28 games in a row – or host St. Peter. The game time is tentatively set for 2 pm, but due to an umpire shortage, please check our social media channels (bptigertown.com or BPTigertown on Facebook and Twitter) for confirmation.
With a loss on Saturday, Team Tigertown will host either Minnesota Lake or Fairfax in loser’s bracket play on Sunday, needing four wins to make it to the state tournament. Only two more wins are needed through the winner’s bracket, and a pair of victories this weekend would secure a state tourney berth.
Baseball is best when it’s all on the line! Come out to Tiger Park this weekend and cheer on the boys, who are seeking the team’s 10th state tournament appearance in the last 13 seasons (since 2007).
Dassel-Cokato 1 @ BP 7 (Tuesday, July 23)
There’s nothing the fans appreciate more than a fundamentally-sound victory – right?! – and that’s just what the locals gave the home fans on Fan Appreciation Night, along with numerous giveaways where almost everyone came away a winner. Brody Curtiss started on the hill in the regular-season finale, working two scoreless innings. Nathan Herman went three innings and allowed Dassel’s only run, while Josh Terrio and Jared Miller each chucked a pair of scoreless frames.
Seven Tigers collected a hit, with Carsen Ladd the only one to get two – along with a team-high three runs scored. Curtiss had the Tigers’ only extra-base hit, a triple.
Janesville 2 @ BP 9 (Monday, July 29)
Playoff baseball is a different animal, even when that animal is an eight-seeded bird. The Tigers’ 17-6 record meant nothing once the first pitch was thrown, and the boys looked a little jittery to begin as Janesville grabbed a run in the top of the first inning against Herman.
The playoff knife cuts both ways, however, and a pair of Janesville errors contributed to Belle Plaine getting a run back in the bottom of the first. After a 1-2-3 second inning by Herman, the Tigers sent eight men to the plate in the bottom of the frame, scoring three times behind Derek Dahlke’s key two-run, two-out single up the middle.
A leadoff walk led to another Jays run in the third, but Herman stranded runners at second and third base with one out after a fly out and a strikeout. It was a sign of things to come for both teams, as even though El Tigre finished with nine runs, it left 14 men on base for the game.
The Jays threatened a few more times – including leaving the bases loaded in the seventh after consecutive punchouts by reliever Wes Sarsland – but they did not score again. The Tigers, meanwhile, kept after the visitors, getting three runs in the fifth and single tallies in the sixth and eighth innings.
Tyler O’Brien had six plate appearances, reaching five times thanks to a single, a double and three walks. He drove in two. Josh Terrio entered the game with three doubles this season but lashed consecutive two-baggers in the third and fifth innings. Carsen Ladd, Curtiss and Pat Schultz also enjoy multiple-hit games.
Herman struck out six batters over five innings and picked up the win, allowing both runs. Sarsland piled up five strikeouts over three innings while Derek Dahlke closed it down with a scoreless ninth.
As Carl Spackler once said, “I guess the kidding around is pretty much over.” After getting walloped at Waconia last Wednesday, the Tigers closed the regular-season schedule last night (July 23) against Dassel-Cokato. Check bptigertown.com or twitter.com/bptigertown for the result and details.
Belle Plaine completed its River Valley League schedule with a 10-4 record (16-6 overall), good for the RVL’s No. 2 seed in the Region 6C Tournament and at least a pair of home games. The first game will be Sunday at 6 pm, when the 13-60 League’s No. 8 seed, Janesville, journeys to Tiger Park.
Win or lose, El Tigre’s next game will be on Saturday, August 3, 6 pm at Tiger Park, with the opponent to be determined. As long as BP doesn’t lose its first two games, it will also be in action on Sunday, August 4, with all pertinent details yet to be determined. Stay updated at RiverValleyLeague.com or the league’s Twitter account, twitter.com/RVLbaseball, where a full, updated bracket is available.
As we head into the postseason, let’s take a look at the Tigers’ statistical leaders. Among qualifiers, Brody Curtiss (.379), Carsen Ladd (.355) and Tyler O’Brien (.327) are leading the way. Curtiss is the leading slugger at .603, while Ladd is tops in on-base percentage (.459). O’Brien has a team-high seven steals.
On the mound, it’s once again Curtiss leading the charge with a 1.65 ERA and a team-high 29 strikeouts. Nathan Herman is hot on his heels, with a 2.13 ERA and a team-best four wins. Clayton Meyer (2.22 ERA) and Wes Sarsland (2.57) have also been solid contributors.
BP 0 @ Waconia 10 (Wednesday, July 17 – 7 innings)
The Tigers had only one game on the week before taking off for the annual Bar-B-Q Days celebration. Could they maintain their focus before redeeming a burning pocketful of ride tickets?! The answer, of course, was a staunch “nope.”
Curtiss got the start on the hill for BP and worked three innings, yielding one run. The thought was to get a handful of pitchers some work due to the paucity of upcoming action, but making it a “bullpen game” seemed to backfire as the Wildcats scored nine runs over the next four frames.
Offensively, Belle Plaine’s only true threat came in the fourth when Derek Dahlke led off with a double. Our ballers loaded the bases with no outs, but three straight punchouts sapped whatever wind was in the Tiger sails.
Five Tigros had a hit, with Carsen Ladd collecting a pair. Jake Mercado and Jared Miller drew BP’s only free passes.
Since the evening of June 22, the only team Belle Plaine has lost to is Jordan. First came a 9-2 setback at the Mini Met on June 25, then a 3-2, late-inning home loss against the Brewers on Sunday. Otherwise, the Tigers have won six games – including a shutout victory at St. Peter last Wednesday and a shortened blowout win at Le Sueur on Friday.
Our ballers shouldn’t feel too bad as, per usual, Jordan has run roughshod over the rest of its Class C league competition and at 11-1, has already clinched the No. 1 seed in the Region 6C tournament. The Tigers are the first of the RVL Class C teams to have completed their league schedule and at 10-4 (16-7 overall), will be either the RVL’s No. 2 or 3 seed entering the Region tournament. At 7-4, Gaylord is Tigertown’s nearest threat to claim the No. 2 seed, and the Islanders hold the tiebreaker against Belle Plaine.
Tonight (July 17), the locals will wander to Waconia for a 7:30 pm affair. The Lakers, a very talented team this year and in recent seasons, was recently and shockingly ruled ineligible for the playoffs due to an illegal player. Their ballpark has come a long way and is part of a top-notch operation, one well worth the trip over from Tigertown.
Tuesday (July 23) marks the end of the regular season for the Tigers when Dassel-Cokato pays a visit to Tiger Park at 7:30 pm. It’s Fan Appreciation Night, with hordes of giveaways throughout the game. Don’t miss it!
After rain postponed the game from July 9 to July 10, the Tigers scrambled to find 10 players to make the journey to St Peter on Wednesday night. The Tigers sent Nathan Herman to the hill, while the Saints countered with 2018 Tiger draftee Andy Regner.
The two young horses for each team were locked in a pitcher’s duel all night. Each chucker worked out of early trouble, but the Tigers were able to get on the scoreboard first in the fourth inning. Chase Emmers lead off the frame with a single and stole second base before advancing to third on a single by Mgr. Matt “Break glass in case of emergency” Ruehling. Emmers scored on a groundout, giving the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
In the fifth inning, Herman put the glove down and found a piece of lumber, clobbering an RBI double to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Offensively, Mgr. Ruehling and Brody Curtiss led the way for the “Fearless Ten” with two hits apiece. Herman was the MVP, going the distance on the mound and scattering six singles, with four strikeouts and just a pair of walks.
Another lean Tiger squad limped to Le Sueur for a Friday night showdown. Unlike Wednesday’s offensive struggle at St. Peter, however, the Tiger Lumber Company exploded for 16 runs and 18 hits in just seven innings of at-bats.
The Tigers scored in bunches, with five runs in the first and fifth innings, and four runs in the sixth. Tyler O’Brien paced the Tiger attack with a Kirby Puckett-like four hits. Underutilized savvy veteran Zac “Papa” Dahlke, typically epoxied to the bench, joined in on the offensive explosion with three hits – ONE OF WHICH WAS A STAND-UP DOUBLE! (No, that is not a typo).
Curtiss contributed three hits. Jared Miller, Pat Schultz, and Ruehling all chipped a pair of knocks. Curtiss also took the mound and did his best to keep the ball away from the misplaced defense, striking out eight Braves over six innings of work.
Sunday was deemed the “Day of Baseball” at Tiger Park, with four games scheduled between varying age levels of Jordan and Belle Plaine teams. BP’s Junior Legion squad started out on the right foot, securing a 7-1 win. Jordan’s Legion team shot back with a vengeance, evening the score with an 11-0 blanking. The Gray Tigers, meanwhile, rode former town-baller Shane Hofmann on the hill to a 6-2 defeat of the Alers.
In the grand finale, Tiger starting pitcher Jake Mercado scuffled out of the gate, yielding a run but leaving the bases loaded in the top of the first inning. He worked three additional frames and settled in nicely thereafter, finishing with a lone run allowed.
The Tiger bats began the third inning with two quick outs before nine-hitter Jared Miller induced a walk, followed by a Tyler O’Brien single. Josh Terrio tied the game with a clutch base hit before Curtiss doubled, giving El Tigre a 2-1 lead.
Clayton Meyer relieved Mercado on the hill and was very sharp, setting the first nine Brewers down in order. The fateful eighth inning started with a single, but a failed hit-and-run resulted in the baserunner being erased after a rundown. With two outs and nobody on base, Joe Lucas’ single was followed by a well-hit ball ruled an error. With the game hanging in the balance, Brewer pitcher Nate Beckman drilled a back-breaking, two-run double over center fielder O’Brien’s head.
Thanks to Beckman’s key rip, he eventually became the winning pitcher as former minor leaguer Joe “The Antelope” Lucas worked a worry-free two-inning save.
All three of Belle Plaine’s hits on the day came consecutively in the third inning, belonging to O’Brien, Terrio and Curtiss. Derek Dahlke took the mound this season for the first time with the Tigers, tossing a scoreless ninth.
The Belle Plaine Tigers fought past Fairfax last Tuesday (July 2) with a 10-run victory, giving them an 8-3 record in River Valley League play and a 14-6 mark overall. Last night (July 9), our striped warriors ventured to St. Peter; check bptigertown.com or twitter.com/bptigertown for the result and highlights.
Entering play yesterday, the Tigers trailed the Jordan Brewers (10-1) by two games in the RVL Central standings. Although our lads lost to the Brew Crew on June 25, the Tigers still have hopes of claiming the league crown – and it could come down to the finale of Sunday’s four “Day of Baseball” games when Jordan faces Belle Plaine.
Before then, El Tigre will head to Le Sueur on Friday to take on the Braves at 7:30 pm. The Braves are 4-5 in RVL play, with Gaylord also above them in the standings, at 6-3. Henderson (4-6), St. Peter (2-3), Arlington (2-7) and Fairfax (1-9) round out the bottom half of the league standings.
Sunday’s Day of Baseball begins at 10:30 am – the first of four Belle Plaine versus Jordan contests. The Junior Legion Tigers are up first, followed by the Legion Tigers at 12:30 pm. Zip Zellmann’s Gray Tigers will square off against the Jordan Alers at 3 pm, with the Tiger and Brewer town teams capping the day at 6 pm. If you can’t make it to Tiger Park, tune in the game on KCHK Radio – 95.5 FM/1350 AM, or via their website or smartphone app.
Coborn’s is sponsoring Sunday’s games and will be collecting donations on behalf of the Belle Plaine Food Shelf. All patrons that bring canned goods and/or non-perishable food items will be entered in a drawing for a Coborn’s gift card.
Fairfax 4 @ BP 14 (Tuesday, July 2 – 7 innings)
Although Don Zimmerman’s favorite ball team, the Fairfax Cardinals, came in with a subpar league record, the Birds had the Tigers’ attention early on when long-time veteran Scott Palmer slugged a no-doubt-about-it home run over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead after a half-inning of play.
The cleanup hitter for Belle Plaine responded in kind in the bottom of the first, as Jake Mercado’s three-run circuit clout – his second tater of the season – put the Tiger faithful back at ease.
The Palmer home run was the only blemish for Tiger starter Nathan Herman, who worked five innings to pick up the victory and move to 3-0 on the season. The right-hander allowed three hits and one walk while punching out six.
Our heroes peppered the visitors by scoring in five of their seven at-bats, including a three-spot in the seventh inning to incur the 10-run rule and send the fans home both early and happy. Mercado finished the night 2-for-4 with four RBI while also looking dominant on the mound, closing out the Cardinals by notching all five of his outs via strikeout, allowing no runs and just a hit over 1.2 innings.
Derek Dahlke also homered for BP, his second straight game with a long ball. Lots of Tiger hitters also deserve mention, including Chase Emmers (one hit, two walks, three RBI) and Clayton Meyer (two hits, a walk, two RBI), while Jared Miller and Pat Schultz posted multi-hit efforts.
The Town Tigers took their lumps at Jordan last Tuesday (June 25) but responded at home on Sunday with a bounce-back win over Arlington, pushing their RVL record to a solid 7-3 (13-6 overall). The Tigers hosted Fairfax last night (July 2); check bptigertown.com or its social media channels for details.
Jordan is atop the RVL Central standings with a 9-1 record, while Gaylord (6-3), with five consecutive victories, is hot on the Tigers’ heels. The other five RVL C teams are under .500 in league play, with Henderson and Le Sueur at 4-5, Arlington (2-6), St. Peter (1-3) and Fairfax (1-8).
Brent Meyer Memorial & Tiger Alumni Night was held on Friday at Tiger Park. Pregame ceremonies began by honoring the MBA’s newest Hall of Fame member in Dave “Greek” Wagner, who was lauded by Tom Redman, his campaign manager. The 1994 Tigers were then remembered for this year being the 25th anniversary season of the team’s only state title, with special attention given to their field manager, the late Brent Meyer, who passed away last October at age 54.
Emcee John Bergs, Belle Plaine Baseball Association President Dennis Lawson and Gerry “Mize” Meyer, Brent’s father and former BPBA President, all paid tribute to No. 39 with heartfelt words on the microphone, remembering him as a person with a second-to-none passion for faith, family and baseball. The ceremony concluded with the unveiling of a new tabletop bearing Meyer’s inscription, as well as conducting several ceremonial first pitches thrown by Brent’s youngest son, Jack. (Please note: several videos and hundreds of photos from Friday’s festivities are posted at facebook.com/bptigertown.)
A good number of Meyer’s former players then took the field for the first Tiger alumni game since 2008, except unlike the last time, the alumni took on the current Town Tigers instead of fellow old timers. Matt Schultz’s three-run, first-inning double gave the town ballers a 3-0 lead that held up through four, but the legends scored one, one and two runs over the last three frames before refusing to play any further, thus gaining a 4-4 tie that will transform into a lopsided victory as the years roll on.
Due to the extended Independence Day holiday weekend, the locals won’t return to action until 7:30 pm Tuesday at St. Peter. The Tigers bested the Saints in an earlier matchup this season, 9-1.
BP 2 @ Jordan 9 (Tuesday, June 25)
Belle Plaine made the seven mile trip to Jordan to square off against the Brewers in a battle of the RVL Central’s top two teams. The Tigers sent Wes Sarsland to the mound, while the Brewers countered with Scott Hollingsworth – a salty vet who has been winning games since before half the Tigers were born.
Although our fellows struck early, scoring single runs in the first and second innings, that’s all the Tigers could muster as Hollingsworth showed why he has lasted all these years, stranding baserunners in the third, fourth and fifth innings.
Three runs in the fifth frame was more than enough for the Brewers, who also added one in the seventh and three in the eighth. Sarsland went six-plus innings and yielded as many runs, followed by Josh Terrio, who coughed up three more tallies over the final two innings.
El Tigre had seven hits in the game but could not get a big one, and no Tiger notched more than one safety. Like Pedro Martinez and the Yankees, the Tigers will have to keep calling the Brewers “Daddy” for their continued domination in the head-to-head series.
Although stormy skies and some afternoon rain showers momentarily looked to put the 6 pm contest in peril, it turned into a beautiful evening for Little Leaguers, free root-beer floats and baseball. After falling 5-4 at Arlington on May 29, the Tigers were seeking to settle the regular-season score.
Brody Curtiss took the ball from manager Matt Ruehling and was staked to a 1-0 in the second inning when after a lengthy at-bat, Derek Dahlke ripped a line-drive home run over the left-field wall – his first of the season. The A’s manufactured a run in the third and the score remained tied at 1-1 through five and a half innings.
In the bottom of the sixth the Tigertown Express broke through with four runs, the key blow a two-run single up the box by Clayton “Twice a Tiger, Always a Tiger” Meyer. The spry right-hander would be needed again in the Arlington eighth, as BP started the frame with consecutive errors. After a single and a hit batsman, Curtiss got the hook.
Although both A’s baserunners that reached by error came around to score, Meyer worked out of further trouble before breezing through the ninth with two strikeouts and a diving, game-ending, beauty of a catch by right fielder Chase Emmers.
Seven Tigers collected a hit, with Curtiss (2-for-4) the only Tiger to tally more than one.
“Brent Meyer Memorial and Tiger Alumni Night” will be held on Friday at Tiger Park, as a patchwork team of Tiger alumni dusts off the cleats against the current town Tigers in an umpired, nine-inning ballgame under the lights. Ken Tritz’s “Secret Recipe” Pulled-Pork Sandwiches, a once-a-season treat, will be available.
Festivities will begin at 7 pm, with the pregame ceremony commemorating Meyer and the 1994 Tigers, the team he managed to that season’s most-memorable Class C state championship – the only such title in team history. Sadly, Meyer died at age 54 last October after a six-month battle with brain cancer.
As an accompanying story in this week’s Herald details, our hearty congratulations to Tiger alumni Dave “Greek” Wagner for officially making the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame! Greek will be the sixth BP Tiger inducted, joining Fred Keup Sr. (1966), Joe Hahn (1982), Omy Hahn (1984), Gene O’Brien (1994) and Gerry “Mize” Meyer (1997).
Greek has played amateur baseball for 52 years, including 15 seasons as a member of the Tigers town team. He is a long-time and current member of the 35-and-older Belle Plaine Gray Tigers as well as the Belle Plaine Baseball Association board. Much more information is available at bptigertown.com.
On Sunday, the fun continues at Tiger Park with a 6 pm contest against the Arlington A’s – a team the Tigers lost to on May 29, 5-4. It’s Little League Night sponsored by Edina Realty & Edina Realty Mortgage, who will be joining forces to give away free root beer floats as well as some prizes.
On Tuesday, it’s another humdinger of a promotion with Lutheran Home Night and Senior Citizens Night, as our version of “Music on the Stamped Concrete” is led by the unflappable concertina player, Ernie Stumpf. Seniors are admitted free, and the first pitch is scheduled for 7:30 pm against the Fairfax Cardinals.
The town Tigers failed to defend last year’s Farming Tournament championship due to a first-round loss but still had a good weekend, taking two of three games – including wins against Winsted and the Sartell Stone Poneys. Last night, the Tigers played a big River Valley League tilt against league-leading Jordan; visit twitter.com/bptigertown for the result.
The Tigers entered Tuesday’s game with a 12-5 record (6-2 RVL). See you at the ballpark!
BP 0 @ Farming 4 (Saturday, June 22 – Farming Tournament)
The Tigers opened the weekend at noon against the host team, Farming. A late Friday night for some Tigers, and an early morning for those who went up Saturday morning was a sign of how the day would go.
The Flames jumped out to an early 1-0 lead as ace starter Wes Sarsland served up a leadoff home run in the bottom of the first. The Flames were able to singe the scorebook for single runs in the third, fifth, and sixth innings.
The Tigers’ offensive fire, meanwhile, never got lit, and four singles were all the visiting locals could muster. Veteran Josh Terrio led the way with a pair of hits, while Jonny Vinkemeier and Chase Emmers collected the others.
BP 2, Winsted 1 (Saturday, June 22 – Farming Tournament)
The Tigers had a few hours to regroup and relax before they hit the diamond for the second game of the day, starting at 6 pm. After holding the first kangaroo court session of the year – including the young Tigers teaming up on veteran Johnny Egan – he will need to dig deep into his piggy bank. And a rare performance from Zac Dahlke, who uncharacteristically did not want to argue about anything.
Once court was adjourned, the Tigers faced off against the Winsted Wildcats on the consolation side of the bracket. The script was flipped in the night cap as Nathan Herman got the Tigers on the board with a two-run double in the bottom of the first. Unfortunately, that’s where the offense came to a halt. A single from Terrio was the only other hit recorded.
Tiger pitcher Brody Curtiss only needed two runs of support, however, as he faced one batter over the minimum in three innings of work. Jared Miller came on in relief and picked up where Curtiss left off. The Wildcats threatened in the sixth inning when Miller gave up his second home run in as many outings. The right-hander regrouped and recorded the final four outs, though, preserving a one-run win.
BP 13, Sartell Stone Poneys 6 (Saturday, June 22 – Farming Tournament)
After Saturday night’s victory, the Tigers got the opportunity to play a third game on the weekend. A 10 am start time was less than ideal for both clubs, and the Sartell Stone Poneys were still seeking a ninth man that morning.
The Tigers jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first with a two-run bomba from Curtiss and an RBI double from Miller. Clayton Meyer drew the envious nod on the bump, scattering eight hits across five innings.
With a note that these are the Sartell Stone Poneys and not the Muskies, the stone-handed ponies committed seven errors in seven innings of play. Mitch Stier came in to pitch and close out the Tiger weekend, starting a new winning streak. Miller and Vinkemeier led the way with two hits apiece.
-- by Brett Kruschke, Jack Gill, Matt Ruehling & Matt Schultz
After an unsatisfying exit from the Tigertown Classic on June 8, the Tiger Train got back on track by winning all three games last week. Belle Plaine raised its record to 10-4 on the season with a stout 6-2 mark in the River Valley League. Jordan, at 8-0, is the only other RVL C team currently above .500.
The Tigers hosted Lonsdale last Wednesday and despite trailing 6-1, used three home runs to out-slug the Aces, 11-9. Friday saw the T-Train chug into Fairfax, where Wes Sarsland silenced the Cardinal lineup in an 8-0 shutout. On Sunday, Brody Curtiss provided more of the same and the locals won big at Henderson, lashing out 20 hits – including 10 for extra bases – in a 16-1 drubbing.
Team Tigertown will take the work-week off in preparation for defending last year’s Farming Tournament title. The Tigers will square off against the host Farming Flames at 12 pm Saturday and play a second game later that day, against St. Joseph or Winsted, at 6 pm with a loss or 8 pm with a win. Depending how the tournament unfolds, the Tigers may also play a game on Sunday.
On Tuesday, our lads will get a chance to smear Jordan’s unbeaten league record when they visit the Mini Met at 7:30 pm. Typically we only plug one week’s worth of games at a time, but don’t forget to make plans for the Friday, June 28 Alumni Game at Tiger Park. A most memorable night is on tap! Full details will be in next week’s Herald.
Stay up-to-date with all the Tiger travails at this weekend’s Farming Tournament via twitter.com/bptigertown and the mothership, bptigertown.com.
Lonsdale 9 @ BP 11 (Wednesday, June 12)
Following a heartbreaking semifinal loss in the Tigertown Classic, 6-5 to Hamburg, the Tigers welcomed the Lonsdale Aces into town on a cool Wednesday night. Curtiss crushed a home run in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game, 1-1. But the Aces were ready to play as Tigers starting pitcher Jared Miller got touched for six runs while getting just four outs.
As Jake Mercado took the ball for the Tigers, they trailed 6-1 heading to the bottom of the second. The Mighty Tigers rose up, though, adding five more runs over the next three innings. Carsen Ladd, Derek Dahlke, and Mercado all contributed big hits while helping cut the deficit to one run. Mercado’s hit, oh by the way, was his first career home run.
With BP leading 9-7, Nathan Herman relieved Mercado of his duties in the sixth and went the rest of the way. The last of the game’s runs came in the sixth inning as both teams plated a pair of runs. Lonsdale tied the score once again thanks to an RBI double and a wild pitch, but the Tigers finished Lonsdale off with another Curtiss home run, this time a two-run bomba.
Across his four innings, Herman notched five punchouts. Tiger infielders led the way as Curtiss, Derek Dahlke (or was it Zac?), Carsen Ladd, and Mercado combined for all seven of the team’s hits as overall, they went 7-for-18 with five extra-base hits.
BP 8 @ Fairfax 0 (Friday, June 14)
After a quick top of the first inning, the Tigers offense woke up by scoring one run in the second, third and fourth innings. The big blow came in the fifth. After an error and a walk, Sarsland clubbed a two-run double, and he later scored on a RBI groundout from Clayton Meyer.
The Tigers added on two more insurance runs in the top of the ninth behind an RBI double from Derek Dahlke, who later scored on an error. In total, the Tigers had nine hits, led by Curtiss, Tyler O’Brien, and Luke Schmidt with two apiece.
Defensively, the Tigers were ready all night. Sarsland took the mound and never relinquished the game ball. Our last All-Star lefty went the distance for his first complete game of the year, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out four.
BP 16 @ Henderson 1 (7 innings – Sunday, June 16)
It was a battle of Tigers as Belle Plaine travelled to Henderson for a Sunday afternoon showdown. After going quietly in the first inning, the local cats batted around in the second and plated six runs to give starter Brody Curtiss more than enough support for the day.
The felines wouldn’t stop there, however, as they scored another run in the third, two in the fourth, five in the sixth and two in the seventh to take the game in seven innings by the ten-run rule. Curtiss worked five frames, giving up no runs while striking out seven. Former Henderson Tiger turned BP Tiger turned Henderson Tiger and back to BP Tiger Clayton Meyer worked the final two frames, giving up one run while striking out two batters, Tiger.
Hitting stars were aplenty for the local nine, as they cranked out 20 hits – featuring a whopping nine doubles and a triple. Derek Dahlke, Curtiss, Mercado and Miller all chipped in three hits apiece, with the latter three each collecting a pair of two-baggers. Zac Dahlke made a fine pinch-running appearance, standing on first base for one pitch before exiting the game to resume first-base coaching duties.
-- by Brett Kruschke
The Tigers experienced a mixed bag at the 21st annual Tigertown Classic tournament, bludgeoning Minnesota Lake 12-2 on Friday before falling 6-5 on Saturday in a walk-off win for Hamburg. That means that just once in 21 years have the Tigers made it to the championship game of their own tournament – a 4-3 loss to Marshall in 2011.
Congratulations to the Watertown Red Devils, who not only received a five-inning no-hitter from Zach Iten in a 12-0 win Saturday against Andover but won twice more to claim this year’s tournament hardware. Watertown beat the Minneapolis Mudcats on Sunday morning, 6-3 in eight innings, before an exciting 7-4 win over Crow River Valley League rival Hamburg on Sunday. Thanks, also, to the many willing hands that helped out at Tiger Park over the weekend.
Team Tigertown will carry a 7-4 (4-2) record into tonight’s home game against Lonsdale, with the first pitch scheduled for 7:30 pm. With a youth baseball tournament at Tiger Park this weekend, the town teamers will hit the road with matchups at Fairfax on Friday (7:30 pm) and Henderson on Sunday (5 pm).
Due to the Farming Tournament next weekend, your next chance after tonight to catch the boys at home is the much-ballyhooed Brent Meyer Memorial and Tiger Alumni Night. Circle the calendar for that one. More details next week!
Minnesota Lake 2 @ BP 12 (Tigertown Classic – 5 innings)
For the second season in a row, Minnesota Lake and Belle Plaine played the first game of the Tigertown Classic in the 6:30 pm Friday slot. Last season required extra innings, as the Tigers finally scooched past the Royals with four runs in the eighth inning to win, 6-2.
On Friday the Tigers notched their second straight four-run frame against the Royals, batting eight men in the first inning before adding another three runs in the second for a commanding 7-0 lead. The lead grew to 10-0 and by the time the night was finished, Team Tigertown touched home in every inning but the fifth.
Wes Sarsland proved to be the primary player both on the mound and in the batter’s box. The left-hander spun five innings of three-hit ball, yielding both runs in the fifth inning. At the plate, Sarsland went 2-for-2 with a home run over the double-link wall in right field while bagging three RBI.
Eight Tigers had a hit, with Nathan Herman (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) the only other Tiger with multiple safeties. Carsen Ladd drew three walks and scored twice while his older brother, Aiden Ladd, walked twice and added a hit while driving in three runs. Derek Dahlke had a double, a walk and drove in two. Last but not least, Brody Curtiss went 1-for-3 with three runs and a hit.
Hamburg 6 @ BP 5 (Tigertown Classic – 7 innings)
Hamburg served as home team via random draw, while the Tigers poked across the game’s first run in the top of the fourth inning on an RBI groundout by Derek Dahlke. Brody Curtiss was on the hill for the locals and struck out five of the first nine men he faced, but despite carrying a shutout into the fourth
inning he lost control and did not escape the frame. Jonathan Schmidt helped BP avoid further damage by firing a perfect strike from left field to dry out a runner at home plate.
The T-Train was in a 5-2 hole with six outs to go when Curtiss, Aiden Ladd and Derek Dahlke started the inning with consecutive hits to ignite a two-run rally. After hanging a zero in the bottom of the sixth, Luke Schmidt was hit by a pitch with one out. Down to their final out, Carsen Ladd laced a ball down the right-field line to tie the game but he was thrown out on the bases, ending the uprising.
In the home half of the seventh, Hamburg singled and took third base on an errant throw. Having enjoyed myriad success by employing the bunt against the Tigers, they went to the well one more time with a suicide squeeze. Pitcher Nathan Herman made an excellent defensive play to flip the ball to catcher Pat Schultz in time, but the Hawks baserunner knocked the ball loose for the winning run.
Six Tigers picked up a hit, with the Ladd brothers, Carsen (3-for-4, 2B, RBI) and Aiden (2-for-3) leading the charge. Derek Dahlke had a hit and drove in a pair of runs.
All three of Belle Plaine’s games last week came against River Valley League teams, with the Tigers posting a 2-1 record. A one-run loss at Arlington on Wednesday was followed by home wins against St. Peter and Gaylord. The Tiger Train’s record now rests at a solid 6-3 overall (4-2 RVL).
With 20 years of the Tigertown Classic invitational tournament in the books, the locals are still seeking their first championship. They will resume that elusive pursuit on Friday at 6:30 pm, when Brad Lawson (former Tiger and son of BPBA president Dennis) and the Minnesota Lake Royals start the tourney off for the second year in a row. Last season Los Tigros defeated the Royals, 6-2 in extra (eight) innings.
The second game on Friday night is between Greenwald and the Shakopee Coyotes, and the Tigers will face one of those teams depending on the respective results. With a win, our boys will play at 7:30 pm Saturday; with a loss, at 5:15 pm. Action starts Saturday at 10:30 am and Sunday at 11 am. See the bracket for the full schedule and stay tuned to bptigertown.com and twitter.com/bptigertown for all the latest.
Season-ticket holders get in free to the tournament while each day’s admission covers all of the day’s games: two on Friday, five on Saturday and three on Sunday (weather-willing). See you at the Classic!
BP 4 @ Arlington 5 (Wednesday, May 29)
The Tigers were finally able to play ball against the Arlington A's. The game was originally scheduled for May 19 but after a pair of weather postponements, it was made up a week and a half later. The extra rest wasn't long enough for the Tigers, as Arlington held on for a 5-4 win.
Mitch Stier took the ball for the Tigers and got the first two outs very quickly, but three singles and a costly Tiger error gave the A's a 3-0 lead. The T-Train responded in the second inning with three singles and three walks to tie the game. The Tiger rally was cut short, though, after an A's pitching change left three Tigers stranded on the bases.
Arlington regained the lead in the home half of the third with a pair of walks and two singles for a 5-3 advantage. After three innings of work, Stier was relieved by Clayton Meyer who kept the Tigers in the game by tossing five shutout frames. Unfortunately, the offense stayed stagnant the rest of the night.
The Tigers were able to get a run in the sixth inning from a RBI single from Tyler O'Brien, but that was it. La Tigra sprayed seven singles in the contest, with Josh Terrio collecting a pair.
St. Peter 1 @ BP 9 (Friday, May 31)
On RTL Construction Night, all fans were treated to a hot dog, chips and pop. While the bellies of Tiger fans were full, the Tiger offense was coming up empty, as the game was scoreless at the halfway point thanks to starting pitchers Wes Sarsland and Sam Carlson.
Belle Plaine broke through in the fifth when Jonny Vinkemeier’s RBI double came between a pair of St. Peter errors. In the sixth inning it was consecutive walks that wounded the Saints, with Sarsland delivering an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
With just nine players in attendance plus regional folk hero Tom “Break glass in case of emergency” Lacina present, the indicators that Carlson was running out of steam came home to roost in the home half of the seventh inning.
Nathan Herman batted first and last in the seventh, starting the stanza with a single and ending it when he tried to stretch a triple into a quadruple. In-between Herman’s at-bats the Tiger Trolley was busy, with the primary blow a two-run double from Sarsland.
If we had a Player of the Game award, it would be Sarsland. He led the way offensively with three hits and three RBI, and on the hill he tossed seven scoreless innings with a like number of strikeouts. Pat Schultz and Vinkemeier joined Herman in pocketing two hits apiece.
Gaylord 2 at BP 4 (Sunday, June 2) PHOTOS
Belle Plaine got great pitching performances from their starter, Jared Miller, and late-inning reliever Nathan Herman. Miller pitched six innings and gave up one run on six hits and five walks, with six strikeouts.
The Tiger offense started slowly but picked up by the fifth inning when shortstop Clayton Meyer ignited a two-out rally with the first of three straight singles. Josh Terrio delivered the latter of those, bringing in the Tigers’ first run of the game to tie the score.
In the seventh inning, speedy leadoff hitter Tyler O’Brien provided the big blow and sent the ball over the left-field fence for a two-run home run – the Tigers’ first long ball of the season. Belle Plaine tacked on another run in the frame with an RBI single from Sarsland. After seven innings, Team Tigertown held a 4-2 lead that held steady to the end.
After a lengthy and disturbing run of ineffectiveness against River Valley League rival Henderson, perhaps the Belle Plaine Tigers have begun to put away the so-called “Henderson Hex.” In the locals’ only contest last week, our lads handled Henderson for the third straight meeting – the previous two by just one run each – with a decisive 7-1 triumph.
As to having a lone contest last week, that is thanks to the Arlington game being postponed for the second time in three days. Tonight (May 29) the teams will try again, as the Tigers head to Arlington at 7:30 pm.
On Friday, the Big Grr returns home to take on the St. Peter Saints at 7:30 pm. The promotion is RTL Construction Night, with all fans receiving a free hot, chips and pop courtesy of RTL. The Tigers will look to turn their tassels again on Sunday when the Gaylord Islanders visit for a special 12 pm (noon) start time.
Remember to check bptigertown.com for all things Tigers. And don’t forget to follow our social media channels: bptigertown on Twitter and Facebook.
Henderson 1 @ BP 7 (Friday, May 24)
Despite morning rainfall that saw some local teams postponing ballgames by lunchtime, our striped warriors found sunshine on Friday night as they hosted Henderson. Belle Plaine fell behind 1-0 through three innings but took a 2-1 lead into the seventh before icing matters with a five-run frame.
Jared Miller got the start on the mound for the hometown Tigers and he did not disappoint, scattering three hits with eight K’s and an unearned run across seven innings. Big brother Josh Terrio came in to get the final six outs, preserving the win for his little burrheaded brother.
It wasn’t easy for the Tiger Train, as Henderson lefty Glenn Parker was a tough customer and sat down 10 via strikeout. Our growlers churned out eight hits, with Terrio belting a double and triple while collecting three RBI.
--by Brett Kruschke & Matt Schultz
The Town Tigers brought a 3-1 record into last weekend but blew a golden chance to be 4-1, squandering a 7-3 lead in the final innings at Gaylord to get hung with a painful 9-7 loss. Sunday’s game at Arlington succumbed to overall cruddy weather, and it has been rescheduled for 7:30 pm tonight (Wednesday, May 22) at Arlington.
Friday begins a six-game homestand for Belle Plaine, with a seventh game possible on June 9 via the Tigertown Classic tournament. But first things first: Henderson will stop by Tiger Park at 7:30 pm Friday on the bargain shopper’s favorite, Dollar Beer Night. The boys will then take the rest of Memorial Weekend off before resuming action on Friday, May 31 at home against St. Peter.
See you at the ballpark!
BP 7 @ Gaylord 9 – Friday, May 17
Belle Plaine traveled to Gaylord on Friday hoping to beat the Islanders – and Mother Nature – as the weather looked ominous. Wes Sarsland started on the mound and worked five innings while yielding three runs, none of which were earned.
El Tigre scored one run in the first inning, while Gaylord answered with single tallies in the first and second frames. It began to rain lightly in the third inning, and when Belle Plaine took the lead by scoring four times in the fourth, the locals were hoping to go “five and dive” with a timely downpour.
Holding a 6-3 lead after five innings, the rain decided it would let the festivities play out – and Gaylord fans would sure prove happy that it did. One more run for the locals in the sixth made it 7-3, providing a seemingly comfortable advantage for fill-in field manager Matt Schultz.
Mitch Stier relieved Sarsland but his cutter just wasn't cutting. The Islanders scored one run in the sixth inning and three more in the seventh to tie the score. Former professional ball player Ed Reichenbach came in for the final two innings, throwing heat that the Tigers couldn't touch.
Jake Mercado came on in the eighth to try and match Reichenbach but like Stier, he also lacked his good stuff, allowing two earned runs despite no hits. Clayton Meyer came on to get the final two outs of the eighth. The Tiger 9th went quickly and in 1-2-3 fashion, each succumbing to a whiff.
Pacing the hitting attack for the locals was a pair of college ball players. Tyler O’Brien and Sarsland both laced a pair of doubles, with the latter collecting four knocks. Carsen Ladd also enjoyed a multi-hit performance.
--by Brett Kruschke, Matt Ruehling, Colin Schultz & Lauren Johnson
After getting stomped in the season opener against Carver, the Tiger town teamers have shot back with three consecutive wins – including triumphs over Hamburg and Webster last weekend. Is it too early to retire field manager Matt Ruehling’s uniform number?! (Yes.)
With a youth tournament at Tiger Park this upcoming weekend, our lads will hit the dusty trail for a pair of River Valley League road games. On Friday, Team Tigertown treks to Gaylord for a 7:30 pm affair while on Sunday, the Arlington A’s will host La Tortigra at 2 pm.
Fear not, Tiger faithful: a six-game homestand kicks off at Tiger Park on Friday, May 24.
As is tradition, we like to explain this article’s byline once per year so you can have some idea of who’s writing what you’re reading. Brett Kruschke serves as editor and as a fairly regular home-game writer, while each of the other three byliners this week are making their Belle Plaine Herald debut.
Typically, the names appear in the order in which they are featured within the column. It’s not the equivalent of solving one of our town’s seasonal treasure hunts, but it will have to do.
BP 4 @ Hamburg 2 (Friday, May 10)
The Tigers traveled west to face an unfamiliar foe in the Hamburg Hawks. Jared Miller started on the mound for the Tigers and scattered four hits, striking out out two across five scoreless innings of work.
The Tiger Roller Coaster started clicking in the sixth inning as four walks and a Josh Terrio sacrifice fly combined to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead. Terrio then came in to relieve his younger brother on the hill and added two more scoreless frames.
Jonny Vinkemeier closed out the final two innings of the ballgame, and the Tiger bats added an insurance run in both the seventh and ninth innings. While the Hawks were able to scratch across two runs in the bottom of the ninth, it was too little, too late.
The Tigers meted out a mere five hits. Jonathan Schmidt led the charge with two, with Johnny Egan, Clayton Meyer and Miller added the others.
Webster 0 @ BP 8 (Saturday, May 11)
Saturday’s game against the Webster Sox, sponsored by Matt Saxe Chevrolet, was one for the books. It started out slowly and for the first couple innings, it was a pitcher’s duel. Manager Matt Ruehling ended up as the designated hitter because Matt Schultz is a bum and ended up not batting. Just kidding – we’re his cousins, so we had to throw a zinger in there for entertainment value.
Luke Narveson traded football pads for baseball pants and although it took him a couple at-bats, he finally ripped a solid line drive up the middle. Narveson was one of many locals to secure a hit, as the Tigers compiled 13 knocks on the afternoon. Long-running player Josh Terrio and youngin’ Carsen Ladd led the pack with three hits apiece. Newcomer Luke Schmidt, after entering late into the game, tallied the first two hits of his Tiger career.
Mitch Stier was the winning pitcher, tossing the first five innings of the game without yielding a run. Clayton Meyer came on for two innings before Jonathan Schmidt worked the eighth. Carsen Ladd toed the rubber in the ninth. Jack Meyer, the youngest son of former Tiger field manager Brent Meyer and the grandson of MBA Hall of Famer Gerry “Mize” Meyer, started on the hill for Webster and blanked the Tigers through four frames before getting chased in the fifth.
The game picked up the pace as it progressed and our beloved Tigers pulled through to get the dub, despite battling fierce winds and periodic rain showers. Keep updated with our weekly articles or come watch a game this season – Tiger Baseball is a great community function that our town has to offer!
--by Brett Kruschke & Jack Gill
The Belle Plaine Tigers got the ball rolling last weekend, getting carved up by the Carver Black Sox on Friday night in the season opener before pocketing the more vital game of the weekend on Sunday, with a decided victory over the Le Sueur Braves.
The Tigers will verify if veteran Johnny Egan is keeping his lawn cut when they visit his new neighborhood on Friday with a 7:30 pm contest at Hamburg. On Saturday, another non-league game is on tap when the Webster Sox stop by at 2 pm. The promotion is Matt Saxe Chevrolet Day, with the first 100 fans in attendance receiving a free t-shirt.
Now that we’re pretty sure winter has ended, head on up to Tiger Park for a hot dog and support the boys. And don’t forget: it’s still not too late to make the most of a Tigers season ticket! Just $25 covers your bases for the rest of the season.
Carver 13 @ BP 2 – Friday, May 3
Last year’s game against Carver was rained out, meaning that these old cohorts – once both members of the Carver Central League –had not played since May 6, 2011, a 5-4 Tiger win in 11 innings. Mike Schultz got the win then, but on this night, it was Matt Ruehling’s first game as manager in place of the now-retired Schultz. How quickly the flower fades and a new one arises.
The Tigers struck first, in the first, when the still-but-barely-active Matt Schultz peppered a single to left field with two outs for a 1-0 lead that held up until the third inning. That’s when Carver scored four times – three coming with two outs – on five singles, a walk and an error behind Tiger starting hurler Jonathan Schmidt.
Schmidt worked a 1-2-3 fourth frame before turning it over to Carsen Ladd in the fifth. A double sandwiched by a pair of walks resulted in two more runs for the Black Sox and a 6-1 lead.
Belle Plaine pushed across its final run of the contest in the sixth inning, cutting the deficit to 6-2. Black Sox starting pitcher Adam Fredericks closed his night by striking out four Tigers in the inning – yes, four.
Third-year rookie Chris Dahl got to work his lefty magic in the 8th, but Carver was on him like flies on a ribroast and pushed five runs across before the inning was over – with two runs charged to Dahl’s high-school coach, Pat Schultz. On the bright side, Dahl and Schultz both smacked doubles in the game, with Schultz’s two hits making him the only Tiger to register multiple safeties.
El Tigre loaded the bases with no-one out in the bottom of the eighth but the uprising was quickly quelled without scoring a run. It’s not always sunny in Philadelphia – nor in Tigertown – as the cool, wet evening mercifully came to a close after Carver tacked on another two runs in the ninth.
Le Sueur 3 @ BP 8 – Sunday, May 5 - 66 PHOTOS
Tigers right-hander Jared Miller pitched 4.1 innings in Sunday’s tilt against the Le Sueur Braves. He yielded three runs on four hits with four punchouts and a pair of walks.
The Tiger bats were hot in the middle innings, led by several of their infielders. Jonny Vinkemeier, Nathan Herman and Carsen Ladd combined for seven hits in 14 at-bats on the day. In the fourth inning, Herman led off with a triple to the left-field wall before scoring on a single from Schmidt. After four frames, Belle Plaine held a 2-1 lead.
Team Tigertown scored six runs between the 5th and 6th innings. After two quick outs in the sixth, the Tigers knocked five straight singles that resulted in four runs. Mitchel Stier took the mound in the fifth inning and worked 3.2 innings of shutout ball. Clayton Meyer relieved Stier in the 9th, sealing the win.
--by Brett Kruschke
The Belle Plaine Tigers will open the 2019 season at home on Friday at 7:30 pm, facing a former Carver Central League foe, the Carver Black Sox. The promotion is $1 hot dogs. These are not your mama’s Black Sox, as Carver has made consecutive state tournament appearances after a 34-year absence.
On Sunday, the Tigers will again be at home when the Le Sueur Braves visit at 2 pm in the season’s first River Valley League affair. The promotion for that game is Watch-Matt-Schultz-Try-To-Beat-Out-A-Ground-Ball-To-Second-Base Day. (Spoiler alert: he won’t.)
Team Tigertown enjoyed a fine campaign last year, going 23-9 (9-5 RVL) for its most wins since 2011. The Tigers made the state tournament for the first time since 2015 and beat Crookston before falling to defending state champion Kimball in the second round.
After 16 seasons in the Tiger dugout – including the last six as field manager – Mike Schultz has hung up the cleats and handed the reins to five-season veteran Matt Ruehling. When asked his outlook for the 2019 Tigers in an offseason interview, Ruehling responded:
The 2019 season should be exciting. We have a young, athletic team with veteran leadership. We were "young" for the past few seasons; now those boys are grown up and have made the transition from high school ball to amateur ball. The goal for a new season is to improve from the year before. After having a short run in the state tournament last season, this group will be hungry and excited for summer to come and make another playoff run through the dog days of summer.
This year’s roster is again a plump one, consisting of the following players: Aiden Ladd, Carsen Ladd, Jonny Vinkemeier, Johnny Egan, Zac Dahlke, Derek Dahlke, Tyler O’Brien, Joe Hankins, Josh Terrio, Nathan Herman, Jake Mercado, Jared Miller, Pat Schultz, Matt Schultz, Mitchel Stier, Wes Sarsland, Luke Narveson, Brody Curtiss, Chase Emmers, Jonathan Schmidt, Joe Pomije, Chris Dahl, Jackson Stauffacher, Nick Willey.
Come on out and support the boys, and take in the great American game of baseball. Season tickets are available for $25 and $50 – the latter including a free food and drink item at each game – and may be purchased at Brad’s Barber Shop or at the ticket gate on game days. Pick up, as well, a complimentary pocket schedule, and you’ll be the envy of the neighborhood.
Single-game ticket prices are $4 for ages 18-64, $2 for ages 12-17 and 65-plus, and free for ages 11 and younger. The Tigers have a 25-game regular-season schedule, including the 21st annual Tigertown Classic invitational tournament in June. The full season schedule, with promotions, is online at bptigertown.com.
If your business would like to sponsor a season-long ad in our game program, the cost is just $50. Please contact us, if interested.
Efforts are underway to get life long Belle Plaine resident Dave “Greek” Wagner into the Minnesota Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Greek started his amateur baseball passion playing town-team baseball in 1967 during his sophomore year in high school. He has continued to play amateur baseball for 51 years through 2018, interrupted only by his stint with the U.S. Army and a tour in Vietnam.
Greek’s career started out as a left-handed hitter and catcher that included four years as a starter with the high-school team – including two All-Conference selections – followed by college ball with the University of Minnesota and St. Cloud State.
His amateur baseball career included 15 years with the Belle Plaine Tigers and six years with the Green Isle Irish, making five state tournament appearances. In 1992, he started playing over-35 baseball with the Belle Plaine Gray Tigers and Union Hill Pit Bulls, participating on Minnesota state championship teams in 1997, 2013 and 2018. His baseball history also includes playing over-50 baseball with the Hanska Bullheads.
Wagner worked 28 years for the Scott County Sheriff’s Department and holds a M.A. Degree in Public Safety Administration from Mankato State University. Greek spends time serving the community, where he volunteers as a member of the Belle Plaine Baseball Association board as well as being a member of VFW Post #6202 and American Legion Post #144.
He has volunteered as a local Cub and Boy Scout leader for 16 years, the Belle Plaine Fire Department for 20 years and as a Firearms Safety Instructor for over 20 years. His volunteer service also includes the National Wild Turkey Federation, Minnesota Waterfowl Association, Scott County Pheasants Forever, Ducks Unlimited and the Belle Plaine Sportsman Club.
Greek and his wife, Kim, live in Belle Plaine and have two children: Sarah and Ben. Individuals that would like to write a letter of support in regards to his nomination may do so by the end of April and submit to: Tom Redman, 1088 Roselyn Drive, Victoria, MN, 55386 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Ruehling Named Field Manager
Matt Ruehling, a five-year veteran player on the Belle Plaine Tigers town team, was named the team’s field manager on January 9 by the Belle Plaine Baseball Association. Ruehling replaces Mike Schultz, who retired in November after 16 years in the Tiger dugout – including the last six as field manager.
Schultz, the brother of the Tigers’ elder statesmen, Pat and Matt, compiled a 91-99 (.479) record during his managerial career. He guided four teams to the state tournament and collected seven state tourney wins, while his postseason record was a gaudy 22-11 (.667). The Tigers were runners-up at the Class C state tournament in Schultz’s first year at the helm, in 2013.
Q: As a town-team player, both team-wise and individually, what do you consider to be your career highlight?
Matt Ruehling: As a player for Tigertown, the highlights that stand out are making it to the state tournament three out of the five seasons that I have been on the team. As an individual player, my highlight was hitting a home run a few years back. (Editor’s note: The home run came on May 13, 2017 at St. Benedict, and it is the only long ball of Ruehling’s career thus far.)
Q: Who were your baseball coaches at Belle Plaine High School and what did you learn from them?
MR: The coaches I had at BPHS were Pat Schultz and Dennis Lawson. They taught me to always hustle and to never take a pitch off. They also preached fundamental baseball and to play the game the right way.
Q: What other head baseball coaching experience do you have. Any notable successes?
MR: I have been the 8th grade coach at BPHS for four seasons. The past two summers, I've been the head coach for a 15AA traveling team and the Junior Legion team from Belle Plaine. Two years ago, our 15AA team won a tournament and qualified for the state tournament.
Q: What's your outlook for the 2019 Town-Team Tigers?
MR: The 2019 season should be exciting. We have a young, athletic team with veteran leadership. We were "young" for the past few seasons; now those boys are grown up and have made the transition from high school ball to amateur ball. The goal for a new season is to improve from the year before. After having a short run in the state tournament last season, this group will be hungry and excited for summer to come and make another playoff run through the dog days of summer.
Q: Under your leadership, what traits do you expect Tiger Baseball to most be known for?
MR: I want Tiger Baseball to be known for playing the game the right way. Playing hard, being ready every pitch, hustling, playing fundamentally-sound ball. I believe if we can do these little things, there will be success for our Tigers.
Q: What's something you agreed with in how Mike Schultz managed the Tigers and what's something you might have a different approach on?
MR: The best thing Coach Mike ever did was not playing me. Mike and I usually agreed upon situations throughout the game. He's an aggressive manager and believed in his players to come through for the team.
After 16 years in the Tiger dugout, including the last six years as manager, Mike Schultz has announced his retirement. Mike's departure breaks up the storied Schultz-brother trio, as older brother Pat and younger brother Matt were the three most-tenured Tigers (and have been for a while).
Mike joined the Tigers as a pitcher in 2003, with his first game in freezing-cold temperatures in Brownton (http://www.bptigertown.com/Roster/MikeSchultz.htm). Mike took over as manager in 2013 (http://www.bptigertown.com/Coaches.htm) after Jeff Miller's four-year stint as skipper, and the Tigers made it all the way to the Class C championship game of the state tournament before losing to Sartell (https://www.facebook.com/media/set/…).
One of Mike's most memorable lighter moments came during a game in 2016 when out of reserve players, he walked up to the BP press box, told the scoreboard operator -- his nephew, Nick Johnson -- that he was going into the game and promptly inserted him into the lineup (http://www.bptigertown.com/2016SeasonStories.html#Herald61).
During Mike's six-year tenure as manager, he compiled a 91-99 (.479) record with four state tournament appearances and seven state tournament wins. While Zac Dahlke says the only thing that counts is the playoffs, Mike excelled with a career 22-11 (.667) managing record during the postseason.
While the Tigers aren't big on retiring uniform numbers, MLB has already retired his No. 42.
2013 ... 19-17 ... STATE TOURNAMENT (4 wins, Class C 2nd)
2014 ... 15-15 ... STATE TOURNAMENT (1 win)
2015 ... 11-20 ... STATE TOURNAMENT (1 win)
2016 ... 10-22
2017 ... 13-16
2018 ... 23-9 ... STATE TOURNAMENT (1 win)
"Once a Tiger, Always a Tiger." Thanks, Mike!! 🐅 #NeverBunt
Rest in Peace, #39 Brent Meyer
We are sad to report that Brent Meyer, a former Tiger player, manager and board member, died October 4 after a six-month battle with brain cancer. Please pray for the Meyer family and all those that knew and loved Brent. #39
Brent W. Meyer, age 54, of New Prague, died peacefully, surrounded by his family on Thursday, October 4, 2018 at his home. Brent was born on August 15, 1964 at Queen of Peace Hospital in New Prague to Gerald J. and Carman L. (Elder) Meyer. He grew up in Belle Plaine, attended Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic School and graduated from Belle Plaine High School and Mankato State University. Brent married Jane M. Weldon on September 17, 1988 at Our Lady of the Prairie Catholic Church in Belle Plaine and the couple made their home in New Prague. Brent worked as a division controller for Birds Eye in Waseca and was still with them at the time of his death. Brent was an active member of St. Wenceslaus Church, serving as a past member of the board and currently as an usher. An avid sports fan on all levels, Brent was a member in many organizations, including the Belle Plaine Baseball Association, both the New Prague Youth Baseball and Basketball Associations, and was a regional commissioner of the MBA (Minnesota Baseball Association).
Brent’s three children benefitted from his love of sports. He coached baseball, softball, and basketball for all three of them. He was a dedicated high school, collegiate, and amateur umpire and he played for and managed the Belle Plaine amateur baseball town team. When sports weren’t consuming his time, Brent loved the time spent with his family boating and being up at Gull Lake.
Brent is survived by his loving wife, Jane; children, Allie Meyer of New Prague, Jakob Meyer and fiancé, Megan Dyslin of Northfield, Jack Meyer of New Prague; parents, Gerald & Carman Meyer of Belle Plaine; brother, Chris (& Janene) Meyer of Belle Plaine; sister, Molly (& Dave) Gerrish of River Falls, WI.Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday, October 8, 2018 at 10:00 AM with the eulogies being presented at 9:45 at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church. Visitation will take place Sunday 4-8 PM and Monday from 7:30 – 9:30 AM at Bruzek Funeral Home. Burial will occur at St. Wenceslaus Cemetery followed by lunch at the KC Hall. bruzekfuneralhome.com
Playoff baseball games tend to swing on a dime, and that is pretty much what Team Tigertown experienced Sunday night in New Prague against the defending state champion Kimball Express. A 2-0 lead into the seventh inning quickly turned into a 5-2 deficit that became the final score.
Just like that, a successful season is in the books and the focus soon shifts to next year. Belle Plaine finishes the 2018 campaign with a 23-9 record (9-5 RVL) – its most wins since going 26-11 in the Adam Johnson Era of 2011.
Across the 2015 and 2016 seasons, our boys combined to win just one-third of their games. Last year (13-16) it bumped up to 45 percent and this season saw a noticeable leap, with a .719 winning percentage. With 21 players owning four years or less of town-team experience, the future is promising.
The Tigers can playfully boast that they finished the season as the last Class C River Valley League team standing, as No. 1 seed Jordan fell on Saturday night – also at New Prague – to Young America, 5-1.
Of course, there’s plenty of great baseball yet to be played at the state tournament and we would encourage you to visit the beautiful ballparks in Shakopee, New Prague and Jordan over Labor Day Weekend. Find updated brackets and a whole lot more at mnbaseball.org and don’t forget Tigertown’s home base, bptigertown.com.
Thanks to our fans and sponsors for your support this year, as always, and we’ll see you at the ballpark next spring!
Kimball 5, BP 2 @ New Prague (State Tournament, second round) - Box Score
Belle Plaine headed to New Prague’s newly-renovated ballpark looking to punch their ticket to Labor Day Weekend against a formidable foe, the Kimball Express. The teams traded zeroes through the first three innings, with Wes Sarsland on the mound for the Tigers and Ben Johnson for the Express.
El Tigre got to Johnson in the fourth when Matt Schultz singled, followed by a hit-by-pitch for Jared Miller. Derek Dahlke doubled in Schultz before Pat Schultz recorded an RBI groundout for a 2-0 lead.
Sarsland protected the lead into the seventh inning when two hits and a walk suddenly chased him from the game with the bases loaded, one out and the Tigers ahead by two runs. Nathan Herman came on in relief and plunked his first batter to quickly make it 2-1. A force out at home was the second out and it appeared the Tigers might escape the jam, however, a bloop hit to no-man’s land behind first base plated a pair of runs to give Kimball its first lead, at 3-2.
Two more RBI singles in the seventh were salt in the wound, and the Tigers couldn’t dent the scoring column during the final two frames. Express starter Johnson whiffed an overpowering 13 batters in his eight innings of action. Zak Wallner closed things out for the save, striking out two more.
Belle Plaine only had five hits in the contest, with Aiden Ladd grabbing a team-high two plus a walk. Dahlke and the playing Schultz brothers each tallied a hit apiece. Sarsland suffered just his second loss of the season, dropping him to 6-2 in his All-Star campaign.