Carsen Ladd, sliding safely into third base against Hinckley-Finlayson Saturday, has been the Tigers’ most productive offensive player through the first three games of the season.
Carsen Ladd, sliding safely into third base against Hinckley-Finlayson Saturday, has been the Tigers’ most productive offensive player through the first three games of the season.
by Dan Ruud
The Belle Plaine High School baseball team had an eventful first week of the season, making the long drive to Fairmont worthwhile with a 16-13 victory last Tuesday and winning the Belle Plaine Invite for a second year in a row with wins over Hinckley-Finlayson 4-0 and Minnehaha Academy 3-2 in walk-off fashion on Saturday. Minnehaha Academy defeated the Tigers 5-1 in last June’s state Class 2A championship game at Target Field.
Belle Plaine was scheduled to open Minnesota River Conference play at home against Jordan this past Monday but the game was postponed due to poor weather. The make-up date has not been determined.
Tigers 16, Fairmont 13
The Tigers broke open a scoreless game with eight runs in the top of the third inning and led by as much as 16-6 before holding on for a 16-13 triumph last Tuesday in Fairmont.
Carsen Ladd was three for five with a double and four RBI, while Alec Ruud, Tyler O’Brien, Jared Miller and Andrew Hunsader each had two hits. Rounding out the Tigers’ 17-hit parade were John Glynn, Brody Curtiss, Nick Wiley, Nathan Herman, Jon Schmidt and Jake Mercado.
Curtiss got the win on the mound after pitching the first four innings, allowing five runs (one earned) and four hits. He walked four and struck out five. Herman, Miller and Hunsader combined on three innings of relief, with Miller surrendering six earned runs in the sixth inning.
“We swung the bats really well and were very aggressive at the plate,” said Belle Plaine coach Pat Schultz. “I think the time in Florida really helped us to be ready at the plate. It was good to see the boys keep the pressure on and continue scoring runs throughout the game. Our pitching and defense were not as strong, so it was important to have as  many runs as we did. We had a lot of guys have very good days at the plate, but Carsen Ladd and Tyler O’Brien really did a good job of taking good at-bats and keeping pressure on their defense.”
Tigers 4, Hinckley-F. 0
Herman pitched six scoreless innings on just two hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts as Belle Plaine breezed past Hinckley-Finlayson 4-0 in the first game of Saturday’s four-team tournament in Belle Plaine. Miller pitched a scoreless seventh inning, allowing one hit.
Ladd had another big offensive outing with two hits, a hit-by-pitch, a stolen base and two RBI. Curtiss added one hit, a stolen base and two RBI. O’Brien and Hunsader had the other two hits.
“Nathan Herman was dominant for six innings and did not allow a Hinckley batter past second base,” Schultz said. “Miller came in and finished it off with a couple of strikeouts in a nice bounce-back performance. Our bats never really got going like they did against Fairmont, but we strung a few hits together and used some aggressive base running to push a few runs across. Ladd was solid again with two hits and two RBI and Hunsader had a solid game, reaching base in all three at-bats and scoring two runs.
“It was a very crisp, well-played game by both sides,” Schultz continued. “Our pitchers really attacked the zone and our defense really stepped up and improved after a tough showing earlier in the week.”
Tigers 3, Minnehaha A. 2
Belle Plaine and Minnehaha Academy squared off at Tiger Park in what was a rematch of last June’s state Class 2A championship game, and the Tigers were able to get a bit of revenge with a 3-2 walk-off victory.
Minnehaha Academy had walloped East Grand Forks 10-1 at Heritage Square Park earlier in the day before crossing the highway to Tiger Park.
“The kids were excited for the state championship rematch with Minnehaha and jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning,” Schultz said. “Their young pitcher settled in and really kept our bats quiet for the next few innings. We entered the bottom of the seventh inning down 2-1 but a hit, stolen base, three walks and a hit-by-pitch allowed us to get the victory in walk-off fashion.
“It was good to see the boys not quit and keep battling after getting behind early,” Schultz continued. “Ladd got the start on the mound and only allowed one run over three innings but threw a lot of pitches in doing so. Jon Schmidt came in relief and did a great job keeping the Minnehaha hitters off-balance and allowed only one run over the final four innings. He really did a nice job being ready for his opportunity and taking advantage of it.
“This was another well-played game on both sides and our defense and pitching did a nice job picking up our bats,” Schultz continued. “It is not too often you can get two wins against quality teams with only seven total hits. Jackson Stauffacher also had a very solid day behind the plate, making his first varsity start and catching both games.”
In Saturday’s third-place game, East Grand Forks defeated Hinckley-Finlayson 2-0.