By Jean Doran Matua, Editor
This weekend saw the final games of the Minnesota Baseball Association state tournament. The Kimball Express played in three of those games, falling just short of the championship.
On Saturday, Sept. 1, Kimball played New Prague in their home stadium, winning 2-0. Sunday they beat the Buckman Billygoats, 3-2. Sunday evening, they faced Plato, fresh off a 6-1 win over Hutchinson; the Plato Blue Jays defeated the Express, 12-5. Plato went on to defeat the Sobieski Skis on Monday, 8-5, to become the new state champions.
Two of the three games for Kimball were delayed considerably because the game ahead of theirs went to 14 innings; that’s twice. I heard that another game last weekend had gone 17 innings.
“I am so very proud of this group of guys,” says manager Tom Marquardt, “what they accomplished this season in getting to the final four teams in the 95th annual Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament. By no means was this an easy feat. They rose to the occasion and proved that the Kimball Express team is special!”
It should be noted that one of the six people running the 2018 state tournament is Kimball native Bob Greeley. No doubt, it was a dream come true to watch the Express play in his new home stadium in Shakopee Sunday.
“Thanks to all the fans who made the trek to both New Prague and Shakopee for this year’s state tourney!” Tom continued. “We certainly have loyal fan support. Thanks also go out to the businesses of Kimball and the surrounding area, the City of Kimball, Tri-County News, and the Kimball American Legion for their continuing support throughout the year. Going forward, we will be looking for further support as we continue with our Grandstand Project. It can’t be done without the support of our whole community. Thanks again!”
This year’s tournament had the highest attendance since 1960, with 17,349 for Class B and Class C.
Named to the Class C All-Tournament Team were Austin Ruehle and Ben Johnson of the Kimball Express.
Express end their state run,
one game short of championship
The Plato Blue Jays came on strong, scoring 6 runs in the second inning. Despite scoring 5 runs in the game, Kimball was never able to catch up. The Jays continued to score six more runs, assuring their win. They were able to continue this style of play in the championship game the next day, thus earning the state title.
Jordan Joseph hit a home run for the Express in the fifth inning, scoring Austin Ruehle and Scott Marquardt; he also scored in the fourth on a sacrifice fly. Matt Dingmann scored the final Express run, in the sixth. They were unable to score in the final three innings of the game.
Adam Prehn earned the win for Plato with six innings on the mound and Green Isle draftee Mac Zackow in relief. Zach Dingmann was tagged with the loss pitching the first two innings; Zak Wallner and Saint Augusta draftee Zach Laudenbach each pitched three, and Andy Dingmann pitched the final inning.
In losing the semifinal game to Plato, the new state champion, the Express essentially finish the state tournament in third place.
PLATO AB R H BI
TOTALS 43 12 16 11
KIMBALL AB R H BI
Austin Ruehle 5 1 3 1
Scott Marquardt 5 1 1 0
Jordan Joseph 5 2 2 3
Adam Beyer 4 0 2 0
Tom Marquardt 1 0 0 0
Brooks Marquardt 2 0 0 0
Brian Marquardt 3 0 0 1
Matt Dingmann 4 1 1 0
Kyle Winter 4 0 0 0
Joe Von Wahlde 3 0 0 0
Zach Sufka 1 0 0 0
TOTALS 37 5 9 5
R H E
Blue Jays 0 6 0 1 0 2 0 1 2 12 16 4
Express 0 0 0 1 3 1 0 0 0 5 9 2
Express buck the Billygoats
Kimball’s first game Sunday, Sept. 2, was against the Buckman Billygoats. It looked to be a long, scoreless game until the eighth inning. Ben Johnson hit an RBI single in the top of the eighth with bases loaded to score Austin Ruehle. Scott Marquardt, the 2017 state tournament MVP, hit a bases-loaded single that scored Aaron Serbus (pinch-running for Kyle Winter) and Brooks Marquardt at the top of the ninth. The Billygoats bleated back with two runs at the start of the bottom of the ninth, but three strike-outs followed and they couldn’t catch up.
Ben Johnson earned the win for Kimball with eight shut-out innings. Johnson left the game in the ninth after an injury diving for a ground ball, falling and rolling on his left shoulder. St. Joseph draftee Alex Kendall finished up the game, ending it with a strike-out. Nisswa draftee Nate Dechaine took the loss for Buckman, with Matt Tautges pitching the final out.
KIMBALL AB R H BI
Austin Ruehle 3 1 3 0
Scott Marquardt 5 0 2 2
Jordan Joseph 4 0 1 0
Adam Beyer 4 0 1 0
Ben Johnson 4 0 1 1
Brian Marquardt 4 0 1 0
Matt Dingmann 3 0 1 0
Kyle Winter 4 0 1 0
Brooks Marquardt 4 1 1 0
Aaron Serbus 0 1 0 0
TOTALS 35 3 12 3
BUCKMAN AB R H BI
TOTALS 32 2 3 2
R H E
Express 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 12 2
Billygoats 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 3 0
Express shut out New Prague,
in their house
Playing in the state tournament in your home stadium is a big deal. A brief ceremony was held before the Express-New Prague game Saturday, Sept. 1, to honor all who worked toward the total renovation of the stadium, $900,000 and three years of work. A home win would have made their day, but the Express denied them.
Both teams (and a standing-room-only stadium) had to wait more than an hour and a half for the game to start, waiting for the one team to finally score in the 14-inning game that preceded it. It was hot and very humid.
Kimball wore their new white uniforms, the ones they received from Big Athletics for winning the state tournament last year. “I’ve never seen uniforms that white,” I heard a few times. The Express were ready to play and win.
For awhile, it looked as though this game could be another extra-inning no-hitter, until Ben Johnson hit one over the fence at the start of the fourth inning. Austin Ruehle scored from first on a Scott Marquardt double in the seventh. Two runs were enough for a win with excellent pitching. One of the New Prague volunteer hosts – a man with 60 years of playing, coaching, managing, and umping baseball in New Prague – commented several times about how good the Express pitchers were.
Zak Wallner gets credit for the shut-out game, striking out six in the first eight innings. St. Joseph draftee Alex Kendall pitched the final inning for the Express, throwing 11 strikes and allowing no hits. Nathan Sprouls was tagged with the loss, with Johnny Houston in relief.
With this win, the Express were set to play again Sunday: two games, as it turns out.
NEW PRAGUE AB R H BI
TOTALS 30 0 5 0
KIMBALL AB R H BI
Austin Ruehle 4 1 2 0
Scott Marquardt 4 0 3 1
Jordan Joseph 4 0 0 0
Adam Beyer 4 0 0 0
Ben Johnson 4 1 2 1
Brian Marquardt 3 0 0 0
Joe Von Wahlde 2 0 0 0
Matt Dingmann 1 0 0 0
Kyle Winter 2 0 0 0
Brooks Marquardt 3 0 1 0
TOTALS 31 2 8 2
R H E
Orioles 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Express 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 – 2 8 0
Congratulations to the 2018 Kimball Express team for another stellar year! Here’s to another memorable season in 2019, and to successful efforts to raise funds for a grandstand here in Kimball.