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Cold Weather, Bats Leave Tigers Feeling Blue

Split on Road, but Drop CCL-Opener to Waconia

--by Brett Kruschke

You don’t need Paul Douglas to tell you it was cold this last weekend, but unless you were one of the few and hearty Tiger road fans, you might not know that the Belle Plaine bats were equally as chilly. The Tigers opened the season amid snowflakes, with a pair of road games Saturday and Sunday. First, an 11-4 exhibition victory over New Germany, put away with a six-run ninth; then a complete clamp-down at the hands of Waconia hurlers Rob Wagener and Travis Van Doren, who between them struck out 14 and yielded but three hits in a 3-0 stinker.

El Tigre will look to right the ship in Friday’s home opener, where the 70 degree forecast could be just the remedy. The Shakopee Indians will be here for a 7:30 pm contest, while the opener kicks off the promotional season as well for the Tiger’s brain trust, as it is “Dollar Beer Night.” As if it needed further elaboration, that’s right – beers will be one dollar all night long, which is half-price. Please drink and heckle responsibly.

On Sunday, Belle Plaine will face another formidable Class ‘B’ CCL opponent, when they hit the trail to Prior Lake. Game time 2:00 pm sharp. Moms, come out and join Sue Schultz for this Mother’s Day matinee.

No one will soon forget the fun but clean cheering antics of the great fans of the Elko Express, at last year’s state tournament games in Belle Plaine. We’ll find out if they have retained their vigor over the off-season when Elko visits next Wednesday, on what is also “Dollar Dog Night” at Tiger Park. It will also be interesting to see if Eric Tharaldson shows up to potentially defend his own team record, set at 15 in Green Isle in 2002 – one of the more talked-about and prestigious records in Tiger lore.

SEASON TICKETS – T wo season ticket options are available this year: the $20 season ticket, good for entry into all regular season home games (including the Tigertown Classic); and a $50 season ticket for membership in the Tiger Dugout Club, which not only includes entry into all regular season home games and the Tigertown Classic, but also a free hot dog and beverage of your choice (including beer) at each game, plus a Tiger Dugout Club t-shirt! Tickets will be available at the gate, at Brad’s Barber Shop, or through any of the Belle Plaine Baseball Assn. [BPBA] board members. Your support is greatly appreciated!!

Finally, the Tigers and webmaster Nick Kornder are continually working to improve the team website, Scores and game details are being added just moments afterwards. Recent highlights include all team stats from 1998 – present, and some state tournament pictures, courtesy of Carrie Bruder. Check it out!

BP 11 @ New Germany 4 (Saturday, April 30 th)

When New Germany was scheduled back in January, it was to give the new Tigers an early introduction to the fiery and competitive nature of amateur baseball. Check, and check. New Germany has often visited Tiger Park – as recently as last year’s Tigertown Classic – but this was the first time in at least my 15 years that we have ventured to the quaint ball yard of the Dutchmen.

New manager Shane Hofmann would have to wait a day for his debut, as he was unavoidably detained at a Green Lake basketball camp or something. But the Tigers don’t rebuild, they reload, so in stepped former manager Brett Kruschke to pursue managerial victory # 100 (but who’s counting). You could see it in the “eyes of the Tigers” that they wanted this one bad for their not-so-long-ago ex-Napoleon (make that 2 parts Bonaparte; 1 part Dynamite).

Jonny Schulz drew the nod on the mound and worked three scoreless, and hitless, frames. However, he did issue three free passes, a trend that would continue as the day wore on – Tiger pitchers walked ten in all. Zip Zellmann relieved and carried the no-hitter until two outs into the fifth, but before the next out could be recorded, three runs came in while the bases were left full, a dicey situation for the Tigers and those with a vested interest in victory # 100.

I’ll backtrack a step to say the Tigers got on the board in the second, when Dan Weldon and Dave “Hell on Square Wheels” Kreft executed a double steal for the first run. A Nate Hartmann groundout made it 2-0. In the fourth, the Chatfield Nine plated three, two courtesy of a Kreft home run to left. “Coach Superman’s” jog around the bases was about equal to the speed with which he stole second, just two innings earlier.

Jackson Thiesfeldt, principal of the Lutheran Home, moved over from third base to work the 6th and 7th innings, and looked sharp while allowing one run.

In the ninth and still clinging to a 5-4 lead, “Super” Dave Feldt began what would be a six-run outburst with a blooper over second base. The hit was perhaps out of necessity more than anything, as Feldt was already on the mound for an interesting eighth, and would be heading back for the ninth. Yet after 39 pitches and looking more like David Copperfield, Feldt escaped with nary a run across the plate, earning the save and granting manager-for-another-day Kruschke his sweet 100th.

BP 0 @ Waconia 3 (Sunday, May 1 st)

How do you send a message to a team that ended your playoffs last season, in humiliating fashion, on your home field? Not by going out and collecting three hits, while striking out a whopping 14 times, over nine shutout innings – that’s for sure.

But that is just what the Tiger Train did – a third inning single by Ryan Witt, a fifth inning double by Dan “Ty Cobb” Huber, and a gorker with two outs in the ninth from Dan Weldon was it. Only once did the Tigers get a man to third base – in the 5th after Huber’s double, preceding by Thiesfeldt reaching via error. But since the rally began with two outs, Adam Hoffman’s grounder to short was the end of BP’s only legitimate threat.

Not shockingly, new skipper Shane Hofmann gave himself the ball on the hill for El Tigro. The game’s only runs came in the fourth, when Hofmann surrendered three unearned thanks to a walk and a pair of Tiger errors. After that, Dave Kreft made his Tiger mound debut and went four scoreless, giving up a lone hit.

The story of the game was Waconia’s dominant pitching. Rob Wagener went seven innings, yielding two hits flanked by nine strikeouts. Then Travis “Mimi” Van Doren really put the Tigers to bed, recording five of his six outs by strikeout.

The real remorse in the dugout and in the streets of Tigertown, was a “What have we done?” type-feeling, a la the Timberwolves and Flip Saunders, after Kruschke brilliantly piloted this group of Bad News Bears to such a resounding win on Saturday. Followed up, of course, by what Hofmann apparently likes to call “managing” in Sunday’s piddly 3-0 loss.

Updated managerial wins list, active Tigers: Kruschke 100-? (losses not important), Hofmann 0-1.


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This page was created and maintained by Nick Kornder, Sports Information Director at Northern State University. The views and ideas on this page are that of the author, and not those of Northern State University.