--by Brett Kruschke & Matt Schultz
Belle Plaine led by one run with one (extra) inning to
go in the Region 6C Tournament on Saturday but couldn’t close the deal,
instead getting walked-off by Waterville in a season-ending 5-4 loss. The
Tigers had rallied from two runs down in the seventh inning to tie the score
before taking their first lead of the game in the top of the tenth.
If you turn back the clock to the sixth inning at
Jordan six days earlier when Belle Plaine held a 5-3 lead, it was a pretty
rough rest of the week for our beloved boys of summer. But the great game of
baseball makes no promises to those who cross its lines.
Two Tigers will take part in the upcoming state
tournament: Brody Curtiss was drafted by Gaylord while Jordan selected Derek
Dahlke. The Islanders will play on Sunday (August 23) at 5 pm in Milroy
against St. Martin, while Jordan doesn’t play until taking on the winner of
Midway and Lake Henry on August 30 at 5 pm in Milroy. Springfield is the
other host site for this year’s Class C State Tournament. Shakopee,
meanwhile, will host the Class B Tournament.
The 2020 “Covid campaign” ends with a 10-7 record (7-5
River Valley League) – Belle Plaine’s third winning season in a row. Visit
bptigertown.com and click on Stats to view the season-ending statistics.
Thanks to the Tiger faithful for your tremendous
support in this most bizarre season. Here’s to hoping for a full season in
BP 4 vs.
Waterville 5 @ Blue Earth (Saturday, August 15 – 10 innings)
The Tigers made the long trip on
Saturday down Highway 169 to Blue Earth, squaring off against Waterville in
a win-and-advance or a lose-and-get-ready-for-some-football type contest.
Brody Curtiss started for your local nine and as has been the case all
season, the right-hander was brilliant.
Curtiss traded zeros with Indians
starter Dallas McBroom through four innings before a run in the fifth
resulted in a 1-0 lead for Waterville. An RBI single by Pat Schultz in the
sixth tied things back up at 1-1. In the bottom of the sixth, a pair of
Tiger errors led to as many runs and a 3-1 Waterville advantage.
El Tigre wasn't done, however, as
Tyler O’Brien and Curtiss belted back-to-back solo home runs to tie in the
seventh to tie the score, 3-3. Curtiss continued to shove on the mound,
meanwhile, as he took the Tigers to the tenth inning before Belle Plaine
loaded the bases with no outs. After two strikeouts, “Beanball”
O’Brien was hit by a pitch to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead with three outs to
Curtiss began the inning with an
out that was followed by two bloop singles. He finally gave way to Derek
Dahlke who surrendered a two-run single as Waterville walked off in dramatic
fashion. The tough-luck loss was Curtiss’ first of the season.
Belle Plaine had eight hits, with
O’Brien and Aiden Ladd both collecting a pair. O’Brien reached base in all
six of his plate appearances, adding a walk and getting plunked by a pitch
three times – giving him an incredible 16 hit-by-pitches in essentially half
Tigers Tease at Jordan;
Win Twice for State Bid
--by Brett Kruschke
Belle Plaine buried one ghost last weekend but got
a double portion of another.
The Tigers kept Morristown at arm’s length on
Saturday, 6-3, making up for last year’s season-ending loss in these
same Region 6C playoffs. In a
state qualifying contest Sunday at Jordan, the Tiger Train scored three
runs in the first inning and took a 5-3 lead to the bottom of the sixth.
Things collapsed from there, resulting in a 10-run loss that continues
Jordan’s long-running chokehold on the locals.
Jordan clinched a state tourney berth with the
comeback victory, meaning last year’s Class C champs will return to
defend their title. They will be joined by Gaylord and its electric
minor-league lefty, Brody Rodning, thanks to a 4-1 win over St. Peter.
That means the RVL’s Tigers and Saints and 13-60
League representatives Morristown, St. Clair, Eagle Lake and Waterville
will all vie for the third and final state tournament berth from Region
Belle Plaine will play at 1:30 pm Saturday in Blue
Earth against the winner of Eagle Lake and Waterville. If the Tigers
win, they will play again at 4 pm in Blue Earth against the last team
standing from the other side of the loser’s bracket. Two wins means a
trip to the state tournament in Springfield and Milroy; anything less
means the end of the crazy Covid campaign.
Your roving reporter will be on the scene to tweet
updates for whoever might not make the trip to Blue Earth. Go to
Twitter.com/bptigertown, or, visit bptigertown.com and keep an eye on
the Twitter widget at the top right side of the home page. Viva Los
Morristown 3 @ BP 6 (Saturday, August 8) -
The Tigers had a bitter taste in their mouths all
offseason after last year’s 2-1, season-ending loss to the Morries. They
responded by getting after it right away with a run in the first, yet
left the bases loaded.
The heart of the Tiger order went back to work in
the third inning, scoring three runs. Jake Mercado’s RBI single was
followed by a two-run single from Pat Schultz, who drove in the Tigers’
first run on a bases-loaded walk.
Belle Plaine took a 5-0 lead to the 8th when the
Morries awoke, scoring three runs off Tiger hurler Brody Curtiss. The
Tiger right-hander ended the inning – and his day on the hill – with his
11th strikeout of the evening.
Curtiss also delivered an RBI double in the home
half of the 8th, providing the final margin of victory. Curtiss not only
led the way on the mound but with the bat as well, going 3-for-4 with
two doubles, two runs, an RBI and a walk. Josh Terrio aided the attack
with two hits.
Jared Miller worked a 1-2-3 9th, picking up a pair
of punchouts and the save.
BP 9 @
Jordan 19 (Sunday, August 9 – 8 innings) -
Belle Plaine’s long and current losing streak to
Jordan has been mentioned in this space a few times in recent years.
Going forward, it shall simply be referred to as “The Streak.” Consider
it a statistical speakeasy: if you ask the right person, you can still
find out where it’s at.
Playing at the home of the defending state
champions, the Tigers used five hits in the top of the first inning to
score three runs. Aiden Ladd, Jake Mercado and Jack Kruger all delivered
run-scoring hits – with Ladd’s a two-bagger. The Brewers responded with
a pair of runs in the bottom of the first off Tiger starter Derek
Jordan tied the score in the second inning thanks
to an error and the scored stayed put until the fourth, when Ladd lifted
his team-leading third circuit clout of the season. Two innings later,
Dahlke belted a solo shot of his own and the Tiger faithful started
getting that funny feeling in their belly.
Almost before a person could tell a friend that the
Tigers might have something brewing in Jordan did the floodgates open –
not the skies, which increasingly threatened as the evening wore on –
but the Brewer bats. Eight runs crossed home before the bottom of the
sixth was complete.
The Tigers didn’t give up, scoring twice in the 7th
and 8th innings. Ladd even represented the go-ahead run with two outs
and the bases loaded in the top of the eighth, but he was retired on a
A nightmarish bottom of the eighth followed, with
Jordan iScoring seven more runs – each more painful than the last – to
put the Tigers out of their seemingly-sudden misery an inning early via
the 10-run rule.
Dahlke worked a season-high 5.1 innings on the
mound, absorbing seven runs (five earned) and the loss. He was followed
by Miller, Colton Kerkow, Kruger and Terrio.
Dahlke paced the Tigers’ 12-hit attack with three,
while fellow long-baller Ladd – who drove in three runs – and Tyler
O’Brien collected multiple knocks. Curtiss drove in two runs and had a
hit, as every spot in the Tiger order but one made a dent in the hit
Tigers Wallop Wells,
Get Rematch with
--by Brett Kruschke
The Belle Plaine Tigers came out of the gate strong
in Sunday’s playoff opener, using a seven-run first inning to overpower
Wells in a shortened affair, 14-4.
According to seeding, the only upset in last
weekend’s Region 6C Tournament was No. 7 seed Morristown’s 8-3 win over
Minnesota Lake, the No. 2 seed from the 13-60 League. There was one
near-upset, as No. 6 seed Arlington took a 3-1 lead to the 9th before
falling, 4-3, in No. 3 Waterville’s last at-bat.
On Saturday at 6 pm, the RVL’s No. 3-seeded Tigers
will host the upset-minded Morries – the team that ended its 2019
campaign with a 2-1 setback at Jordan in last year’s Region 6C Tourney.
Last year’s Tigers were denied their 20th win of the season, finishing
19-10; this year’s half-season rendition sits in much the same position,
seeking their 10th win (9-5).
Win or lose, the Tiger Train will also play on
Sunday. A win over Morristown would bring on the winner of Jordan – St.
Clair, while a loss to the Morries would result in facing the winner of
Blue Earth – Henderson and a longer row to hoe. With so much yet to be
determined, including game times and locations, stay tuned to
bptigertown.com or our social media channels on Twitter and Facebook
Wells 4 @
BP 14 (Sunday, August 2 – 7 innings)
Brody Curtiss, the bonafide ace of the Tiger staff
this season, took the ball from manager Matt Ruehling and posted a quiet
first inning. The Tiger bats were anything but in the bottom of the
inning, batting around before an out was recorded while hanging a
seven-spot on the awestruck visitors. The highlight of the first frame
was a 3-run homer from Aiden Ladd, who as the No. 3 hitter also made the
last out of the first inning.
A two-out triple scored a pair of runs to put Wells
on the board in the third, but the home-half of the stanza witnessed
another 3-run tater from Aiden Ladd – this one right inside the
left-field foul pole – his second of the day and season. The latter
circuit clout extended the Tiger lead to 11-2, allowing the locals to
cruise the rest of the way.
Curtiss, who worked five innings and allowed a pair
of unearned runs, improved to 3-0 this season with a sparkling 0.68 ERA.
He fanned four Wildcats without a
walk, while Jared Miller added two more punchouts over his two frames.
Ladd and Jamie O’Brien led the Tiger parade with
two hits apiece; seven others contributed one. Aside from Ladd’s six
RBI, Curtiss drove in three while Pat Schultz had a pair. The locals
were plunked by a pitch eight times, with Tyler O’Brien enduring three
beanings. Derek Dahlke and Jonny Vinkemeier were hit twice.
Tigers to Open Playoffs
Sunday at Home
--by Brett Kruschke & Matt Schultz
In the twinkling of an eye, the regular season came
to a close on Sunday and the playoffs are set to begin. On the strength
of a 7-5 record in the River Valley League – 8-5 overall – Belle Plaine
has earned the league’s No. 3 seed and will host the Wells Wildcats (No.
6 seed, 13/60 League) on Sunday at 2 pm.
The Tigers’ following game will take place on
Saturday, August 8, with all other information yet to be determined.
The finalized, filled-in Region 6C bracket is expected to be
available sometime on July 29.
big news this week when it was announced that New Ulm, the primary
host site for the 2020 State Tournament, will no longer host any games
due to a vote by its City Council. Springfield remains as a state
tournament host site, but the Minnesota Baseball Association state board
will soon decide how and who will fill the gap for New Ulm.
Over this past week, Team Tigertown played two
one-run games – a win over Gaylord and a loss to Jordan – while also
beating Henderson twice: once by a dozen runs and another time by
forfeit. It’s the first forfeit this ball writer can recall involving
our hometown team since becoming associated with it in 1991.
BP 2 @
Gaylord 1 (Tuesday, July 21) -
Belle Plaine traveled to Gaylord on a beautiful night
for baseball to kick off the first of four games in six days. El Tigre
struck in the first when a two-out walk to Aiden Ladd was followed by a
stolen base and then an RBI single by Dylan Kahle. A Jake Mercado solo
home run in the fourth was BP’s final tally but proved to be enough for
starting pitcher Brody Curtiss.
Curtiss faced the minimum number of batters through
three innings before yielding his only run in the fourth. The Islanders’
minor-league stalwart, Brody Rodning, came on for the fifth frame, so
the locals knew Curtiss would need to be near-perfect the rest of the
In the sixth inning things looked hairy, as Gaylord
got the first two batters on base to bring up their feared No. 3-hitter.
You may recall last game versus the Islanders, they bunted in the same
situation but it didn't work out. Much to the delight of those without
access to the internet and a bunting probability chart, Gaylord’s 3-hole
hitter squared around to bunt once again.
Curtiss pounced on the ball and was able to get the
lead runner out at third base, showing the crowd that a bunt is not
guaranteed to work and you should never do it. Two consecutive
strikeouts later and the inning was over.
In the eighth, Curtiss faced runners at first and
third with one out but struck out the Nos. 4- and 5-hitters to escape
the jam. Curtiss finished the game with a dozen strikeouts while
scattering seven hits. Tigertown mustered a meager four knocks, with
Derek Dalhke and Jonny Vinkemeier also contributing.
Henderson 1 @ BP 13
(Wednesday, July 22 – 7 innings) -
The Tigers and the City of Belle Plaine were honored
to host the final leg of FOX9’s “Town Ball Tour” for the 2020 campaign,
meaning that TV personalities and camera crews were at Tiger Park – and
about Tigertown – from 6:15 am to about 11 pm. All in all, the promotion
was a rousing success both for highlighting our beloved borough and for
putting an all-important win on the left side of the ledger.
In hopes that it appears in the “Thirty Years Ago This
Week” column in 2050, we’ll take an extra paragraph to note that Dave
“Greek” Wagner began the interviews from Tiger Park at 6:45 AM. Mayor
Chris Meyer was next on location from the Aquatic Center while his
father, former mayor and MBA Hall of Famer Gerry “Mize” Meyer, shared a
sliver of his wisdom from the downtown plaza. Microphone magnet Pat
Schultz wrapped up the morning segments with a pair of interviews back
at the ballpark.
The Gray Tigers, which manager Zip Zellmann really
should be writing about on a weekly basis, started off the field
festivities at 5 pm against the Jordan Millers. While a late Tiger error
submarined a surefire victory and resulted in a 3-3 tie due to time
constraints, “Greek” greased the skids for his own plaque unveiling
later that night by bringing the house down with a clean pinch-hit
single in the sixth inning.
As for the town team, they jumped on Henderson early
and never looked back, scoring 13 runs in their first four at-bats –
including seven tallies in the third inning. Curtiss and Aiden Ladd both
ripped three hits, while Tyler O’Brien had two. Derek Dahlke fanned
three men in four innings to pick up the win.
A wonderful crowd that featured many new faces –
including Belle Plaine’s newly-crowned Royal Court from the Bar-B-Q Days
That Wasn’t – displayed great zeal for the game and an enjoyment for the
great game of baseball. Tiger Alumni proved difficult to corral but also
graced the crowd of local celebrities.
@ BP 4 (Sunday, July 26) -
Facing the defending Class C state champions, the
Tigers entered with a jarring mark of futility against their Hwy. 169
neighbors: 17 straight losses and setbacks in 26 of 27 and 31 of 33. But
as Ellen Griswold once said, “With each day there’s fresh hope.”
Things looked immediately ominous as Joe Lucas
opened the game with a leadoff circuit clout. Jordan added another tally
before Belle Plaine first came to bat, but the Tigers scored on Jake
Mercado’s first inning single although back-to-back strikeouts left
runners stranded at second and third.
In the fifth inning it was Mercado again, belting a
no-doubt homer – his second of the week and team-leading second of the
season – cutting Jordan’s lead to 3-2. In the seventh inning it was
Guess Who? – Mercado – driving in the tying run in the form of Tyler
O’Brien with a ground ball to second base.
Tied 3-3, Lucas started the ninth inning with a
double and one batter later, scored the go-ahead run on Devin Ulibarri’s
single. With two outs, Scott Hollingsworth clubbed an insurance-run long
ball – a run that soon proved to be decisive.
Chase Emmers reached by error to open the home half
of the ninth and scored on Tyler O’Brien’s sacrifice fly. After a
two-out walk to Curtiss, the Tigers had their man, Mercado, representing
the winning run at the plate. A ground ball to second base, however,
ended the game.
Starter Jared Miller (5 IP, 3 R) and Colton Kerkow
(4 IP, 2 R) split the mound duties for Belle Plaine.
Wednesday: Fox-9 TV's "Town Ball Tour" Comes to
Games at 5 PM, 7:30 PM
as part of Tiger Alumni Night
--by Brett Kruschke, Matt Ruehling & Matt Schultz
FOX-9 KMSP-TV will be at Tiger Park all day
Wednesday, July 22, broadcasting live segments with reporter Shayne
Wells at 6:45 AM, 7:35 AM, 8:40 AM and 9:30 AM as well as with reporter
Dawn Mitchell at 5 PM, 6 PM, 7 PM, 9 PM and 10 PM as part of their “Town
Ball Tour.” The segments will feature interviews with various
supporters of Tiger Baseball from the ballpark and various locations
There are two games scheduled at Tiger Park on
Wednesday: the Gray Tigers will face the Jordan Millers at 5 PM while
the town team will take on Henderson at 7:30 PM. One admission fee
covers both games! And there will be no admission charge for former
Tigers, as part of the Tiger Alumni Night festivities – the highlight
being the unveiling of Dave “Greek” Wagner’s new Hall of Fame plaque on
the west side of the grandstand.
Little Leaguers are invited to wear their uniform
tops and chase foul balls as part of the annual Little League Night
promotion, and they may also claim a free hot dog at the concession
The Tigers played at Gaylord last night; visit
bptigertown.com or BPTigertown on Facebook or Twitter for the result and
details. Saturday’s game at Henderson has been switched to a 6 PM
contest in Belle Plaine; Henderson will serve as the home team. On
Sunday, come out again at 6 PM for Fan Appreciation Night against the
defending Class C champion Jordan Brewers – already the last game of the
regular season. There will be giveaways galore!
This past week was a hairy one for our striped
warriors, narrowly avoiding a three-game losing skid thanks to a late
comeback victory (11-10) in extra innings against Arlington on Sunday.
Previous to that, the Tigers scored just two runs in losses to St. Peter
and Le Sueur. El Tigre is 5-4 (4-4 RVL) on the season.
BP 2 @
St. Peter 6 (Tuesday, July 14)
The Tigers jumped out to an early lead against the
Saints in the first inning when returning Tiger Aiden Ladd laced an RBI
double and later scored on a sac fly from his former college teammate,
Derek Dahlke. That’s where the offensive highlights for the hometown
nine end, however, as the Saints scored the last six runs of the game.
The Tigers stranded nine baserunners.
Jared Miller started on the mound and scattered
eight hits across five innings. The Saints scored twice in the fifth
frame and added three insurance runs in the eighth to salt away the
victory. Ladd, Brody Curtiss and Jake Mercado all tallied two hits for
the Tiger Train.
Sueur 7 @ BP 2 (Wednesday, July 15) -
Tyler O’Brien, the everyday center fielder for the
Tigers, got the starting nod on the hill against Le Sueur. He was
opposed by cagey veteran Brandon Culbert, who prefers to finish what he
starts. O’Brien gave the boys a chance by allowing three runs (two
earned) in five-plus innings, but Culbert would not be outdone and did
indeed go the distance. He punched out eight batters, although the
Tigers took out a bit of the sting by breaking up the shutout in the
Terrio, with two hits, continued to swing a hot bat
to lead an otherwise-toothless Tiger attack. Mercado (a triple), Jonny
Vinkemeier (a double), Curtiss and Andrew Fisel had the other knocks for
10 @ BP 11 (Sunday, July 19 – 10 innings)
Arlington A's came to town on what should have been the final day of
Bar-B-Q Days. In honor, both teams threw the ball around like they were
playing “Knock Down the Clown” at the midway.
Sparing you the heretofore gory details, the Tigers started showing
signs of life in the eighth inning but left the bases jammed to remain
in a 10-6 deficit. In the ninth, the locals made two quick outs before
Jake Mercado’s two-run single trimmed it to 10-8. Pat Schultz drove in a
run, making it 10-9, before Josh Terrio knotted the score with a solid
base hit. With the bases loaded, rookie Jamie O’Brien hit a sharp ground
ball to shortstop that just nipped the Tiger baserunner at second base.
On to extra innings …
Tiger pitcher Colton Kerkow said “two can play that game,” loading the
bases with A’s in the top of the 10th before wriggling out of the frame
without allowing a run. Not much later, Tyler O’Brien – who collected
four hits – scored on a sacrifice fly from Mercado, completing the
improbable comeback win.
Chase Emmers started on the mound for Belle Plaine and didn't have his
usual stuff, going 2.2 innings while getting torched for eight runs
(five earned). Pat Schultz worked the next 3.1 frames, giving up only an
unearned run. Jonny Vinkemeier chucked three stanzas (one unearned run)
before yielding to Kerkow.
O’Brien’s big night included two doubles and three runs scored, while
his rookie brother Jamie added two hits. Brody Curtiss also chipped in a
pair, reaching base five times thanks to three errors. Pat Schultz
reached base five times as well, drawing four walks and his one big hit.
Tigers Take 2 of 3,
Rally Late to Gut Gaylord
--by Brett Kruschke, Matt Schultz & Matt Ruehling
It was a good week for your town Tigers, despite
falling to Jordan for the umpteenth time in a row. Sandwiched around
that loss was a dramatic comeback victory over Gaylord and a
business-like triumph at Le Sueur.
“It’s getting late early out here,” as Yogi Berra
once said, as the Tigers (3-2 RVL) enter the stretch run after tussling
at St. Peter (2-1) last night (July 14) in a key matchup. The standings
for the other RVL squads: Jordan (5-0), Gaylord (4-2), Le Sueur (2-3),
Arlington (2-4) and Henderson (0-6).
Tonight (July 15) at 7:30 pm our boys are back at
the friendly confines of Tiger Park as Sunday’s foe, Le Sueur, returns
the favor. On Sunday at 6 pm the opponent will be Arlington, whom Belle
Plaine bopped 11-6 on July 1. Lastly, Gaylord will seek revenge when
Ruehling’s Wreckers hit the road on Tuesday (7:30 pm).
Although we usually only preview a week’s worth of
games at a time, mark your calendar for Wednesday, July 22 for a Tiger
baseball doubleheader. Belle Plaine will be part of FOX 9’s “Town Ball
Tour” when it hosts Henderson at 7:30 pm, but the 35-and-older Gray
Tigers will play the Jordan Millers at 5 pm in part so that FOX 9 will
have some live (if not slower) action as part of that hour’s newscast.
FOX 9 television celebrities will be in and out of Tiger Park all day
and night long, with the park being featured at various points during
the station’s newscasts.
Also coming together on this memorable evening is
the now-annual Tiger Alumni Night – there will be no game, but all
alumni are invited to attend – as Dave “Greek” Wagner is honored with
the unveiling of his Hall of Fame plaque amongst the other Tiger
immortals. It will also be Little League Night, as Greek gives the
little chippers something to dream towards.
@ BP 5 (Tuesday, July 7)
Gaylord came to town for a mid-week tilt and brought
current minor-league pitcher Brody Rodning,
a member of the Toronto Blue Jays organization, who is out of work at
the moment due to Covid-19 and the cancellation of the MiLB season. This
was as close as most of your Tigers would ever get to professional
baseball, and Rodning showed why. He struck out 13 batters in five
innings, yielding just two hits. Despite your local ball club being on
the wrong end of Rodning’s reckoning, most baseball enthusiasts enjoyed
watching a pitcher of his magnitude work.
With the Islanders up 3-0 in the fifth, Gaylord got
their first two hitters on base and brought up their feared No. 3
hitter, Erik Goetsch. Much to the surprise and delight of the Tiger
dugout, the Islanders laid down a sacrifice bunt to give away an out.
Even more surprising was when they completed a suicide squeeze with
their No. 4 hitter to score one run, giving away another out. One out
later, the local nine had escaped what could've been a big inning –
instead allowing only gave up one run. With Rodning done pitching after
the fifth, this proved to be important later in the game.
Despite quiet bats for most of the night – including a
total of 19 strikeouts – in the eighth inning the Tigers scored four
runs thanks to some timely hits. In the bottom of the ninth, two quick
outs made it look like El Tigre would be heading for extra innings. But
a base hit by Brody Curtiss, followed by a stolen base, led to a
walk-off double from Derek Dahlke to complete the comeback and send
Tiger fans home happy.
The locals tallied nine hits, with Curtiss and Dahlke
each belting three. Dahlke started on the mound and went 2.2 innings,
giving up three runs (two earned). Andrew Fisel threw the next 4.1
frames, giving up only one run. Colton Kerkow grabbed the win by
throwing the final two innings without giving up a run.
BP 4 @
Jordan 12 (Friday, July 10)
The Tigers traveled seven miles up the Highway 169
corridor to take on the defending state champions, the Jordan Brewers.
Fireworks erupted in the top of the first inning when Tyler O’Brien
smacked a home run on the first pitch of the game. Unfortunately the
flame was quickly smothered as Jordan bounced back with five runs in the
bottom of the first inning, aided by five Tiger errors.
Belle Plaine used seven pitchers to get through the
game, with Tiger rookie Andrew Fisel suffering his first loss of the
season. Offensively, Tyler O’Brien paced the attack with three hits.
Dylan Kahle, Jared Miller, Brody Curtiss and Pat Schultz all notched
one, as well.
BBP 3 @ Le
Sueur 1 (Sunday, July 12)
The Tigers hoped to get back on the winning track
as they traveled to Le Sueur for a rare RVL afternoon battle. The game
was scoreless into the fifth inning when Tyler O’ Brien reached base on
a two-out double before getting knocked in by ageless veteran Pat
The teams then traded zeros until the ninth inning,
when Jared Miller came up clutch with a two out two-run single. Curtiss
took the ball and was magnificent, scattering four hits across 8 2/3
innings while not allowing a run until the ninth. Kerkow came in and
shut the door on the Braves late rally, getting a strikeout to earn the
save. Miller stayed hot with three hits and O’Brien was right on his
tail, with two.
Tigers Amble Out of
Arlington with Win
--by Brett Kruschke
The Town Tigers took care of business at Arlington
last Wednesday, coming away with an 11-6 victory. The decision evened
their league record at 1-1 while pushing the overall mark to 2-1.
Up next for the Tigertown Express is hosting
Gaylord on Tuesday, July 7
Starting on Friday, the Tigers will roar back to
action with nine games in 17 days. The next three contests, however, are
all on the road: Friday at Jordan (7:30 PM), Sunday at Le Sueur (2 PM)
and Tuesday at St. Peter (7:30 PM).
BP 11 @
Arlington 6 (Wednesday, July 1) -
Jared Miller was handed the baseball by manager
Matt Ruehling and proved to be an effective tool both with a ball and
bat in his hand. Miller, who has pitched in all three games this season,
started the season with three hitless frames at Green Isle.
The right-hander took a 3-0 lead to the bottom of
the third inning at Arlington before the score was soon tied, thanks in
part to a fielding error. The Tigers got those three runs back
immediately in the fourth, with Miller collecting the half-inning’s lone
Miller tossed another goose egg in the fourth
inning before turning it over to Colton Kerkow, who went the rest of the
way. The rookie right-hander ran into some trouble in the ninth inning
before finishing things off, registering six strikeouts on the evening.
The Tigers were hit by a pitch seven times – enough
to make even former-Tiger Dave Kreft blush. Miller led the way with
three safeties while Tyler O’Brien collected a pair. Cleanup hitter Jake
Mercado reached base in all five plate appearances, including a rare
hit-by-pitch hat trick. Jonny Vinkemeier was also plunked twice.
Tigers Test Negative
Against St. Peter
--by Brett Kruschke & Colin Schultz
In this delayed and turbulent season, the Belle
Plaine Tigers waited nine days since its season-opening victory against
Green Isle before taking the field a second time. The locals ultimately
disappointed against St. Peter on Friday, losing 4-3 at home in a second
straight one-run decision.
Team Tigertown was set to entertain Arlington on
Sunday night but the game was postponed to a date yet to be determined.
The Tigers will try again Wednesday, traveling to Arlington for a 7:30 pm
first pitch before taking off the rest of the Independence Day weekend.
A July logjam awaits, as our boys are hoping to
play 11 league games in a 20-day span. What could go wrong?! Perhaps
Gray Tigers manager Zip Zellmann will have to get his ol’ slingshot
loose and sign a short-term contract to help out the squad.
4 @ Tigers 3 (Friday, June 28)
Friday night’s game was one for the history books. In the midst of a
global pandemic, Belle Plainians still showed up in droves to support
America’s favorite pastime. Due to the virus, many precautions were
taken such as social distancing and the selling of only prepackaged food
and drink items at the concession stand.
The Tigers led 1-0 through three innings but the Saints broke a 2-2 tie
in the eighth with a pair of runs, including the game-winner. Pitching
for the Tigers was Brody Curtiss, Jared Miller, and Colton Kerkow.
Belle Plaine put up a fight and made several solid defensive plays, such
as an out at home plate by dependable catcher Pat Schultz, who seems to
get older – I mean, more experienced – with each passing season. Just
kidding, he’s still got it. (We’re cousins, so I’m allowed to tease him
once in a while.)
Throughout the ballgame, BP scraped together some runs but also hindered
its cause by issuing a fair amount of walks. Overall it was not a bad
game, but it is still early in this very unique season. The Tigers are
taking it one game at a time and hope to be able to continue to safely
play the sport they love for the rest of the summer.
DELAYED SEASON UNDERWAY FOR TOWN TIGERS
‘Green’ Tigers Golden
--by Brett Kruschke
The Belle Plaine Tigers town team, whose season was
originally scheduled to start on May 1, finally got to take the field
last Wednesday on a glorious evening in Green Isle. Instead of serving
as the 14th game of the season, however, the locals departed Irish Yard
with a 1-0 mark after a satisfying 7-6 victory.
The culprit for the season’s delay, of course, has
been concern over the COVID-19 virus. A litany of guidelines put forth
by the State of Minnesota and instituted by the Minnesota Baseball
Association are in place for players and fans – and will be for the rest
of the season.
They are available in full at MNBaseball.org and will
also be read several times per game over the public address system.
The River Valley League’s seven Class C teams will
play a rejiggered 12-game schedule. Team Tigertown will open with a pair
of games this weekend at Tiger Park: 7:30 pm on Friday against St.
Peter, and 6 pm Sunday against Arlington. Promotions previously in place
have been scuttled – at least for this weekend.
Season tickets will not be offered this season,
considering there will be just six regular-season home games.
Single-game ticket prices are $4 for ages 18-64, $2 for ages 12-17 and
65-plus, and no charge for ages 11 and under. Former board members:
simply identify yourself at the pass gate for free entrance.
In case you forgot on purpose, Matt Ruehling’s
squad is coming off a 19-10 season (10-4 RVL) that ended with a 2-1 loss
to Morristown, in Jordan, in Region 6C play last August 10. There are a
good number of new faces in Tigertown this season, but we will save the
roster review for a later date and time.
constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has
rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a
blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time.
This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of
all that once was good and that could be again. Oh, people will come,
Ray. People will most definitely come.” – Terence Mann (James Earl
Jones), Field of Dreams
BP 7 @
Green Isle 6 – Wednesday, June 17
BELLE PLAINE HERALD PHOTOS
The first game of the season came together quickly
once teams were given the go-ahead, and the Tigers and their fans
couldn’t have fared much better than to open the “COVID campaign” at
Irish Yard, Green Isle’s beautiful and cozy ballpark.
Manager Ruehling used a plethora of rookies
throughout the contest, with newcomer Dylan Kahle – nephew of 1991 Tiger
Rookie of the Year candidate Terry Kahle – bouncing a single up the
middle for an early 1-0 lead.
Pitching was the name of the game for Belle Plaine
through five innings, as starter Jared Miller (three innings) and his
brother Josh Terrio (two innings) didn’t allow a run or a hit. Miller
used the lumber in making an additional contribution, plating a pair on
a sixth-inning triple for a 3-0 lead.
The first pitch of Colton Kerkow’s Tiger career in
the bottom of the sixth inning was laced for a hit, and the Irish scored
two times before the frame was over. The Tigers grabbed back a run in
the top of the seventh before the Irish threatened again, but the inning
ended when left fielder Josh Terrio hosed a runner at third base.
Despite the first defensive chance of the season
going right through our shortstop’s legs, the game was marked by
terrific Tiger defense. Center fielder Tyler O’Brien had people talking
both during and after the game, coming up with three diving catches.
El Tigre felt pretty comfortable after two
ninth-inning runs extended their advantage to 7-3, but every run proved
to be needed. Derek Dahlke worked the bottom of the ninth inning and did
his best Zac Dahlke impression, allowing three runs before “tsssk-ing”
the tying run at third base as the game ended with a strikeout.
According to the air-tight bookkeeping of Matt
Schultz, players qualifying for their “Welcome to Tigertown” moments
included Kerkow (RBI, 1.0 IP), Jack Kruger (two hits, RBI), Garrett
Boblitt (2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R), Jamie O’Brien (doing his best Brett Kruschke
impersonation) and Joey Burgemeister (walk).
Derek Dahlke, in his defense, reached base in his
last four at-bats with three walks and a single. Miller and Kruger both
recorded multiple-hit efforts.
With Season in Limbo,
Town Tigers Search for Outlets
Belle Plaine Herald:
As COVID-19 continues to shut down beloved events around the world, the
Belle Plaine Baseball Association and its associated teams, like the
Belle Plaine Tigers town team, remain on ice eager for some semblance of
a season to get underway.
The downtime does not mean, however, that work at Tiger Park will wait
for the governor’s orders. The infield and outfield grass continues to
grow; the ivy lining the park's perimeter continues to need maintenance;
the latex paint covering the grandstand continues to incrementally peel
from the chemically weather-treated wood.
For Johnny Miller who, along with Joe Huber, maintains Tiger Park, not
much has changed since COVID-19 began causing widespread shutdowns. Many
are likely to come to the conclusion that Miller’s efforts are part of a
selfless attitude, but Miller says he’s just doing his job.
“It keeps me out of trouble,” Miller said. “It’s just something to do. I
don’t fish anymore.”
Now despite a lack of games taking place at the park, Miller and Huber
continue to mow the field’s grass about every four or five days.
Beyond the routine improvements, the association has been using the
quiet time to make larger scale improvements as well. A new
batting cage became a new addition to the field recently. The
association added fences 20 or so feet in length in front of both
dugouts, both for safety and to be a place for players to rest,
according to Pat Schultz of the association.
Additionally, the association is making plans to install a 90-foot
safety net in front of the fan section on the first base line.
Of course, the association would rather spend their time participating
in baseball games than constructing, Schultz said, but without a green
light from the state, amateur baseball associations around the state
like Belle Plaine’s are left without an outlet.
Schultz remains cautiously optimistic that some form of season may take
shape because adult players are able to be flexible with dates, and he
says the Belle Plaine town team would be happy to play a truncated
season with a start date as late as July.
“Everyone’s willing to play and most people are pretty sick of this,”
Schultz said. “As soon as we find out we’re ready to play, we’ll play
the next day.”
With town team playoffs being set for August, Schultz, who also coaches
the Belle Plaine High School baseball team, says a month of games would
be more than enough time to sort out rankings and determine postseason
brackets, so he and the rest of the association will keep their ear to
the ground for updates from the Minnesota Baseball Association and the
For now, some town team players continue to get pitching and batting
practice and independent workouts in.
But where town team players have the ability to be flexible with dates,
high school players have not been as fortunate. On Saturday, May 9, the
Minnesota American Legion announced that Legion baseball, which Schultz
says would have stood in as a proxy season for many high school players,
will not take place this summer.
The cancellation of two abutting seasons, the high school and Legion
baseball seasons, will mean that players will be away from the
sport for a year or more.
“You just kind of worry that kids will miss over a year of a sport and
not ever come back to it,” Schultz said. “That’s kind of what I worry
about. I hope we don’t lose kids.”
“I hope kids don’t lose a passion for it,” he later added.
The town team state baseball tournament set to take place in New Ulm is
yet to be called off, and the Belle Plaine Baseball Association
continues to echo the state association’s sentiments that they want Gov.
Tim Walz to allow a baseball season to take place. As of Monday,
May 11, the state association was awaiting a reply from the governor’s
office regarding an open letter they submitted calling for the season to
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