BASEBALL: Wilmont bows out of tourney
ARLINGTON -- It wasn't quite the way Sam Baumgartner wanted to end his career as a Wilmont Cardinal. But after a 6-2 loss to the Moorhead Brewers in the opening round of the state amateur baseball playoffs, the 39-year old player/coach said it ha...
ARLINGTON -- It wasn't quite the way Sam Baumgartner wanted to end his career as a Wilmont Cardinal.
But after a 6-2 loss to the Moorhead Brewers in the opening round of the state amateur baseball playoffs, the 39-year old player/coach said it had been a pretty good final run.
"If you would have said at the beginning of the season that we would end up in the state tournament, I'm not sure how many guys on our team really expected that to become a reality," said Baumgartner, who manages and also starts at shortstop for Wilmont. "At the beginning of the year, we didn't even know if we were going to have nine guys to field a team."
Not only did the Wilmont field a team, it posted a 20-14 final record and earned one last state playoff appearance for Baumgartner -- who is calling it quits after 24 years of suiting up for the Cardinals.
Early on, it looked like his career might last for a least one more game.
After falling behind 1-0, Wilmont responded in the top of the third inning. Leadoff man Jay Scheidt walked and advanced to second after a successful Brian Harberts bunt.
Scheidt grabbed third when Joe Ahrens grounded out and pitcher Justin Saufley helped his own cause by hitting a single and bringing his teammate home.
Josh Wasmund then cracked an RBI-double to score Saufley and put the Cardinals ahead, 2-1.
"At that point, we had the momentum on our side," Baumgartner said.
It didn't last long, though.
The Brewers' clean-up man Chris Clemenson did just that in the back half of the third, belting a two-run homer off of a Saufley fastball to retake the lead, 3-2.
"That was a key part of the game," said Baumgartner. "Timely hitting was in place for them."
The same wasn't true for Wilmont, however. The Cardinals left nine men on base and batted 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
Meanwhile, after the home run, Saufley settled in at the mound and retired 11 of the next 13 batters.
That was before he ran into trouble in the seventh inning.
Moorhead second baseman Tim Jallen singled and stole second on a passed ball. Lead-off man Mike Peschel singled Jallen in and Doug Lonski doubled Peschel to third.
Baumgartner reshuffled a fatigued Saufley, who had tossed upwards of 120 pitches, to third base and called newly-acquired Pat O'Brien to the mound. But the former Minneota Mudhen couldn't extricate Wilmont from the situation until the score was 6-2.
In six innings of work, the losing Saufley allowed 11 hits and five earned runs, struck out one and walked another.
The Cardinals threatened one final time in the ninth inning.
Left-field veteran Jesse Teerink peaked interest in the final frame with his fourth single of the game.
His 4-for-4 night was one of the few bright spots for the Cardinals' offense.
"It looked like a softball (Saturday)," Teerink said. "I was due to break out of a slump, and this was the time to do it."
Moorhead hurler Gabe Shockman then beaned Bryan Nikkel.
But Baumgartner struck out in what was most likely his final career at-bat. He finished the night 0-for-4.
"That's all you can ask for, having a chance at the state tournament," he said, although he was disappointed with his performance. "Every team is good up here, so they'll capitalize on the mistakes you make."
With one out, Scheidt hit into a questionable fielder's choice that drew jeers from the Wilmont faithful.
Nikkel aggressively slid into second base and Moorhead's Jallen, who was covering, appeared to drop the ball. But the umpire ruled that he held on long enough, and pinch-hitter Nick Ahrens struck out to end the game, eliminating any chance for the Cardinals to add another chapter to Baumgartner's legacy.
"Since probably the 1950's there's always been a Baumgartner in the lineup," he said.
Baumgartner's father, Bob, and uncles Virgil, Pat and Don led Wilmont to its first state baseball tournament in 1969.
Forty summers later, the Cardinals weren't even expecting to make the postseason.
"It seemed like it was going to be a rebuilding year with a lot of young guys," Teerink said. "But once the playoffs came around, everybody just started hitting the ball and playing great defense."
Teerink plans on coming back again next year, as do most of the players. But Wilmont will have one big hole to fill.
"It's going to be different without Sam," Teerink said of his manager's retirement. "He's meant a tremendous amount to the team."
What will Baumgartner miss the most?
"The guys. Just being at the ballpark, the smell of the leather, the lights," he said. "It's hard to walk away from the game.
"I'll certainly come to the ballpark next year to watch. I won't stay away completely."
But Teerink is hoping his friend will do more than just watch.
Call it the "Brett Favre" itch.
"Maybe we can talk Sam out of retirement," he said. "We'll see what happens."
R H E
Wil. 002 000 000 -- 2 7 1
Mor 012 000 30X -- 6 12 0
Barnstormers advance to state semifinals
BELLE PLAINE -- The top-seeded Barnstormers advanced to the semifinals of the Minnesota Senior Men's Amateur Baseball Tournament after a 5-0 rout of Urbank Sunday afternoon.
Rob Petersen fired a complete-game shutout, allowing only two hits, striking out four and walking only one batter.
Offensively, Tarry Boelter brought in 2 RBIs.
The Barnstormers also blanked the Shoreview Seafoam Hawks 10-0 during a first-round matchup Saturday in Veseli.
Chuck Sendelbach led the charge, batting 3-for-3, with three doubles and an RBI.
Mike Wenninger punched in 3 RBIs, after going 2-4 at the plate.
Meanwhile, Brian Price did the work on the mound, blanking the Hawks for no runs and only two hits in seven innings. Price fanned seven hitters and walked one.
The Barnstormers are slated to take on the Fergus Falls Ancients in the first of two semifinal games on Saturday evening in Jordan. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
If the Barnstormers win, they will play in the championship at 2 p.m. on Sunday. If they lose, the third-place contest will be at noon. Those games will also be played at Jordan.