- by Brett Kruschke
In a season in which making the state tournament already seemed a hearty accomplishment, “Teenage Tiger” is moving on to the second round after a nail-biting 3-2 victory over the Hadley Buttermakers on Sunday in Watkins. Belle Plaine led 3-0 after five frames, with Hadley scoring runs in the seventh and eighth innings before stranding their 16th baserunner of the day when it ended in the ninth.
Up next are the Hampton Cardinals of the Classic Cannon Valley League, owners of a 26-11 record and recipients of a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed from Region 4C. The Tigers will once again be playing at Clipper Field in Watkins, with Sunday’s first pitch at 1:30 pm. The record for the Little Tiger Engine That Could, by the way, is 11-19.
It would be terrific if all of Tigertown made the trek to Watkins, and those that do will find the field and amenities well worth their while. There are other ways to follow along, though, as the game will be broadcast on 95.5 KCHK-FM and KCHKRadio.net. You can also “Watch LIVE” on iScore via a boxscore link at mnbaseball.org, and of course the Tiger Twitter machine (@bptigertown) will be smoking, coming to you live from the dugout.
The Jordan Brewers will be playing at the same time Sunday as the Tigers, in Cold Spring, against Chokio. The other River Valley League team to make the tournament – the St. Peter Saints, whom Belle Plaine beat 3-2 in Regions to clinch a state berth – were drubbed by the powerful Waconia Lakers 13-3 in seven innings.
BP 3 vs. Hadley 2 @ Watkins (Sunday, Aug. 23 – Class C State Tournament, First Round)
50 NEW PICS!
Tigers starting pitcher Derek Dahlke worked out of trouble in the first inning, leaving the bases loaded thanks to a pair of strikeouts and a 3-1 groundout to end the frame. Little did “Little Dahlke” know he’d have to work out of similar dilemmas in the second, third and sixth innings as well. But when all was said and done – despite five walks and a pair of hit batsmen – Dahlke didn’t allow a run, while striking out eight. The right-hander stranded a dozen Buttermaker baserunners.
Team Tigertown got on the board early when Dylan Nyberg destroyed his team-leading fifth home run of the year, a two-run shot to left-centerfield. Josh Terrio, who was hit by a pitch with two outs immediately before Nyberg came to bat, got to lead the slow trot around the bases.
The Tigers’ third and final run came in the fifth inning and again with two outs, as 18-year veteran Pat Schultz drove in Tyler Hartman, who reached on Hadley’s only error of the game.
Josh Terrio was summoned to the mound in the seventh inning for manager Mike Schultz and if you’ve been paying attention, Terrio has been utterly dominant in the second half of the season. He just didn’t seem to have it on this afternoon, however, allowing two runs (one earned) and four wild pitches over 1.2 innings. After a walk put runners at first and second with two down in the eighth, Gaylord draftee Trevor Vaubel got the call.
Vaubel induced a pop-out to first base against the first batter he faced, ending the threat. The right-hander was back out for the ninth and after a leadoff walk, he foiled a sacrifice bunt attempt by firing a rocket to second base to nab the lead runner. Perhaps inspired by his great defensive play, Vaubel struck out the next two batters to end the game and allow Tiger fans and players to finally exhale.
There were only nine hits in the game, four of them for the T-Town Express: Nyberg, Travis Latzke, Pat Schultz and Wes Sarsland. In all, the Buttermakers couldn’t churn opportunity into runs and left 16 men on base.