- by Brett Kruschke & Matt Schultz
Last year Team Tigertown made a valiant run to the state tournament title game when the dream was rudely interrupted by the Sartell Muskies, who capped a 30-2 season with a 10-0 blanking of our locals. The Tigers will have a chance to bury at least part of that memory on Saturday when they face off against Sartell once again, in an 11:00 am duel at Tiger Park in Belle Plaine.
Sartell has one of the state’s elite pitchers in David Deminsky, while Belle Plaine just ensured a .500 season – by improving to 15-14 – with a 10-2 drubbing of Detroit Lakes on Friday in Jordan. But Deminsky – who over the past seven seasons is 31-3 with a 0.92 ERA and 20-0, 0.53 over the past two campaigns – was recently declared out for the season due to injury.
Deminsky’s absence would seem to bode well for the Tigers’ chances but then again, the Muskies didn’t use him in last year’s lopsided win. That also said, the Tigers ran out of pitching last Labor Day and didn’t get to employ their ace Ryan Diers, who will be on the hill this time around.
The entire ‘C’ bracket is single elimination but if the Tigers win, they will play at home again next Saturday at 11:00 am, against either Loretto or the New Ulm Brewers. If all goes according to plan, the Tigers will be in action three more times next weekend.
The opening weekend of the tournament at Tiger Park was a blast and if you haven’t seen the ballpark yet since the state tourney began, you absolutely owe it to yourself to do so: folks far and wide are saying it has never looked better.
Among the lead storylines taking place in Belle Plaine was Winsted pitcher Tony Kley tossing a complete-game 1-hitter with 21 strikeouts – just one short of the nine-inning record – in a 2-0 win over Pelican Rapids. And the Luxemburg Brewers made their first state tourney appearance in 117 years a memorable one, despite a 5-1 loss to powerhouse Jordan. Luxemburg’s fans arrived early and packed the park, and the love affair between them and their team was mutual among common observers.
There is a ton of state tourney coverage at MinnesotaBaseball.org and their Twitter account: @MinnBaseball. The Belle Plaine-Jordan Twitter (@BPJordan2014) and Facebook (Facebook.com/BPJordan2014) accounts were set up especially with these three weeks in mind, so do the daring thing and go have a look. You don’t need a Twitter account to read the tweets; just go to the web address Twitter.com/BPJordan2014.
Finally, long-time Tiger Jeff Miller was interviewed Saturday by Patrick Reusse, Judd Zulgad and Chris Reuvers on AM-1500 ESPN’s radio program, “Saturday Sports Talk.” Broadcasting live from the Mini Met, Miller was a guest for about 15 minutes talking about his career and the glory days of Tiger baseball in the early-to-mid 1990’s. Former Jordan Brewers great Ron Beckman was also interviewed for a few segments; both interviews were terrific and are available at www.1500espn.com’s website.
Team Tigertown headed to Jordan looking to start another run like the one that ended with a second-place finish last year. The Detroit Lakes Angels were the opponent, and El Tigre knew nothing of them as this was the first-ever match-up between the two ball clubs.
The Tigers sent ace Ryan Diers to the mound, while Detroit Lakes countered with Bertha draftee Patrick Riewer. Things looked very similar to the St. Peter regional playoff game, as the Tigers got the leadoff man in scoring position in the first and weren't able to get him in. In the bottom half of the inning, the Angels scored a run to quickly take the lead.
It remained that way until the third when Papa Tiger loaded the bases and got a huge two-out, two-RBI hit from Dan Huber to take a lead they would never relinquish. Diers also drove in a pair to keep the inning going while Brad Lawson’s RBI single plated another for a 5-1 lead.
El Tigre scored three more in the fourth inning plus single tallies in the fifth and eighth to keep the manual scoreboard operators at Jordan busy. Diers threw five innings, giving up only two hits. August Farruggia came in and threw two solid innings with four strikeouts, giving up only an unearned run in the seventh. Then it was time for a few of the draftees to get a little work, as Arlington’s Matt Pichelmann threw a scoreless eighth before giving way to Gaylord’s Trevor Vaubel, who preserved the victory with a scoreless ninth.
Belle Plaine cranked out 11 hits and Diers led the way with three safeties, including a double. He also drove in four runs in the winning cause. Lawson and Jake Fiedler had two hits apiece.