The Belle Plaine Tigers town team, whose season was originally scheduled to start on May 1, finally got to take the field last Wednesday, June 17, 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 p.m. on Friday, June 26, against St. Peter, and 6 p.m. Sunday, June 28, 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 can simply identify themselves 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.
“The one 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) in Field of Dreams
BP 7 @ Green Isle 6
Wednesday, June 17
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.
Summer baseball has not gone off without a hitch as the Jordan Brewers are delaying play for one week after playing Waterville, who documented 2 positive COVID-19 cases.