- by Brett Kruschke
The upstart Tigers knew they had a tall task waiting for them in the second round of the state tournament, and the Hampton Cardinals showed why on Sunday with a thorough dissection of the local nine in Watkins. BP took a 1-0 lead to the bottom of the second, but from there the “pretty birds” posted consecutive run totals of 2-3-4-1-1 en route to a shortened affair and season-ending 11-1 loss.
In future generations, Tigers not-yet-born may look back at this year’s 11-20 record and say, “How did that collection make the state tournament?!” But after bottoming out at 2-11 on June 16 after getting no-hit by the Prior Lake Jays’ Tyler Edwards, the T-Town Growlers played .500 ball (9-9) the rest of the way.
An extremely young team – with half of the roster in their first or second season – finally established their footing, and top pitcher Derek Dahlke also returned to full health down the stretch. When the chips were down in the Region playoffs the Tigers answered the call, beating Arlington 4-0 and upsetting St. Peter 3-2 to clinch a state berth. Defeating the Hadley Buttermakers in the opening round of the state tourney was an extra-sweet reward for what was, at times, a trying season.
We’ve had fun with the “Teenage Tiger” moniker (credit: Matt Schultz) in the column this year and the promising wave of young bucks certainly contained some key contributors already this season. But the emergence of “young veterans” like Dylan Nyberg at the dish and Josh Terrio on the hill highlighted a steady core group that holds it all together, with the three Schultz brothers (Pat, Mike, Matt) serving as the elder statesmen and anchors.
Manager Mike Schultz is planning to write his annual “Year-In-Review” column for next week’s Herald, so he will cover these matters and more in greater depth. As another season ends, thanks for your support of all things “BP Tigertown” and take solace in the fact that Twitter never rests.
Please note that extensive photo albums from the Tigers’ state tournament games are waiting to be viewed at the Tiger Facebook page, or find the link at bptigertown.com. Also, visit mnbaseball.org – if not Cold Spring and Watkins – for coverage of amateur baseball’s exciting conclusion this weekend.
Travis Latzke opened the game with a leadoff walk, stole second, moved to third on a groundout and scored on an RBI single from Derek Dahlke. In the bottom of the first, catcher Pat Schultz – as he’s done so many times before – threw behind the runner at second to pick him off, helping post a first-frame zero for the Cardinals.
Hey – this state tournament stuff ain’t so bad after all!
In the bottom of the second, though, after retiring the first two batters of the inning, things quickly came unhinged for pitcher Derek Dahlke and his Tiger mates. The Cardinals took a 2-1 lead after two thanks to two hits, two walks and a hit batsman.
The bottom of the third inning opened with an error and contributed to three more Hampton runs, while the Cardinals batted around in the fourth to chase starter Derek Dahlke. Gaylord draftee Trevor Vaubel’s magic from a weekend earlier appeared to have dried up as he allowed two inherited runners plus two more to score, making it 9-1.
Vaubel was touched for two more hits and a run in the fifth, with Terrio and New Ulm Kaiserhoff draftee Nick Dewanz combining to work the sixth, yielding one final run.
Team Tigertown tallied five hits on the day, with Pat Schultz leading the way with a 2-for-3 performance. Others dropping one on the state tournament’s hallowed grass were Derek Dahlke, Matt Schultz and Nyberg.