|Region 6C Playoffs
Jordan, MN - BOX
Tigers Record 13-16, 6-8
Henderson Rallies from 8-0 Deficit, Wins 10-9 in 10 Innings
--by Brett Kruschke
The seasons for almost every sports team in every league with playoffs ends with a loss, so a sour taste in the loser’s mouth is the norm. Maybe that’s part of what keeps leagues going – a desire by the majority of its members to overcome that distaste, even if the overwhelming odds say next season will finish much the same.
There’s sour tastes and then there’s mouths full of gravel, which is what the town-Tigers experienced in Jordan on Thursday after watching an 8-0 lead through five frames against Henderson turn into a nightmarish 10-9 loss in 10 innings. Had the Tigers merely blown the 8-0 lead to lose 9-8, that would have been bad enough. But tying the game in the ninth and getting hopes back up made losing an inning later all the worse.
The Tigers were on the verge of hosting No.-8 seed Arlington at Tiger Park on Friday for the right to a state tournament berth at the fine fields of Green Isle, Hamburg and Norwood; instead, the season is over and the collapse will forever be emblazoned on the back of Henderson’s state tournament t-shirts. And more power to them: three consecutive extra-innings wins in the Region 6C loser’s bracket propelled Henderson to its first state tournament appearance since 1932! That is remarkable, and congratulations are in order.
From the end of the 2008 campaign through 2012, Belle Plaine beat Henderson 13 times in 14 tries, including a 10-game winning streak. Since 2013, the Plainesmen are 2-10 against the Comeback Cats, including six straight setbacks. The trilogy of losses this season were eerily similar: 9-8 in 10 innings, 10-8, and 10-9 in 10 innings.
Jordan beat St. Peter in the Region 6C championship game, 2-1, and will receive a first-round bye in the state tournament before facing the winner of St. Joseph versus Maple Lake at 7:30 pm on Aug. 26 in Green Isle. St. Peter will face Avon at 5 pm on Sunday, Aug. 20 in Green Isle, while Henderson will be in action at the same time and date in Hamburg, against the Milroy Irish.
A pair of Belle Plaine pitchers were drafted by Henderson: right-hander Mitchel Stier – a first time All-Star this season, with an 8-2 record – and lefty Wes Sarsland, a “college ballplayer,” who finished 2-4.
Team Tigertown’s season-ending record is 13 wins and 16 losses, with a 6-8 mark in River Valley League regular-season play. We’re not planning a parade route, but after winning a combined 33 percent of their games the past two seasons, the Tigers won 45 percent of the time this year.
While expectations are rightfully rising, the fact is, of the Tigers’ 22-man playoff roster, 14 players have three years or less of town-team experience. With another year under their belts next season and the expected return to the mound for two top arms in Derek Dahlke and Brody Curtiss, the Tigers are already looking forward to next season.
If you see Tiger veteran and stat-man Zac Dahlke around town, give him some encouragement, as the season-ending statistics are nearly done and available for viewing at bptigertown.teams.mnbaseball.org/Stats.
Henderson 10, BP 9 (Thursday, August 10 – 10 innings) - Box Score
The locals needed two wins to qualify for the state tournament, with the first assignment a matchup against the Henderson Tigers at the Mini Met in Jordan. The game was first scheduled for Wednesday, but rain pushed it back a day.
Stier, the winning pitcher in BP’s 2-1, opening-round win at Gaylord, got the ball from manager Mike Schultz. For Henderson, it was fellow right-hander Adam Arnst. The ballgame was scoreless through three innings before Belle Plaine broke through in the fourth. The inning began with a single, double and triple, respectively, by Aiden Ladd, Derek Dahlke and Curtiss.
El Tigre put their leadoff man on base in each of the first five innings, and finally the floodgates opened in a six-run fifth. A dozen Tigers came to the plate, fueled by six singles. Arnst was sent to the showers in favor of Chase Boehne, who absorbed his share of the damage but left the sacks full to end the fifth.
BP sends 12 men to the plate in T5, scoring six runs on as many singles, but leave bases full.— BELLE PLAINE TIGERS (@bptigertown) August 11, 2017
Halfway home: BP 8, Henderson 0 pic.twitter.com/5wKi8wQufl
Stier was crisp through five innings, facing just two batters over the minimum. He started the sixth inning by yielding a hit to the No. 9 hitter and plunking a batter, bringing up Tiger-killer Greg Graham. A dugout sage whispered to a bench player, “If Henderson is going to get back into this game, it’s right here.” And BOOM! A 3-run homer for Graham over the right-field scoreboard made it 8-3, and was the end of the night for Stier.
Jonny Vinkemeier came on in relief and set down the next three batters in order, then yielded an unearned run in the seventh thanks to the leadoff man reaching on an error. Still, an 8-4 lead with six outs to get seemed like a pretty safe bet.
Jared Miller got the last out of the seventh and started the eighth inning, but the fateful frame began ominously with a walk, a hit batter, a fielder’s choice and a single. Josh Terrio, with a team-high five saves, relieved his brother, with one run already in and runners at the corners.
Two of the next three batters sandwiched a walk with back-breaking doubles, and the latter, by leadoff man John Parker, drove in two runs to tie the game. A wild pitch plated the fifth run of the inning, giving the Hummingbirds reason to hurrah after taking an improbable 9-8 lead.
Boehne did a bang-up job in relief for Henderson after the troublesome fifth inning, but our townsmen got off the mat in the ninth, starting with a leadoff walk to Matt Schultz and a sacrifice bunt by Carsen Ladd. Nathan Herman drilled a double, giving the Tigers their first momentum in four innings and more importantly, new life. Herman was stranded, however, at second base, despite two chances to drive him home.
Wes Sarsland came on for Terrio after a leadoff single started the home-half of the 10th, which was the beginning of the end. A sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk (to Greg Graham) and a semi-intentional walk brought up Matt Graham. His fly ball to center field was deep enough to score Philip Champagne, setting the stage for cork-popping some 24 hours later.
The Chatfielders had a big night with the bats, lashing out 15 hits. The heart of the order was huge, with Derek Dahlke going 3-for-6 with two doubles, a triple and four RBI. Curtiss collected four knocks in five trips, including a triple. Herman lashed three hits in five trips, driving in two. Aiden Ladd and Tyler O’Brien also posted multi-hit games.
The history of baseball comebacks are littered with bases on balls, and the Tiger bullpen meltdown surrendered seven freebies over 4.2 innings while striking out just one batter. As pro wrestler Baron von Raschke used to say, “And that is all the people need to know!”
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