Tigers refuse to write off baseball season

Farmington infielder Carson Blasing throws to first base to complete a double play in the Tigers recent victory over West St. Paul in Baseball Alliance of Minnesota play.

Farmington starts 4-0 after scrambling to put together a schedule

First the high school baseball season was canceled. Then the American Legion season was gone. But a number of teams refused to write this off as a lost summer.

One of them is Farmington, which looked for ways to get its players back on the field during the pandemic. Once the governor’s office and the Minnesota Department of Health cleared the way for games to resume, Jake Baskerville, who in a normal season would be the Tigers’ American Legion coach, started piecing together a schedule.

It’s not an American Legion season. Instead, it’s a hybrid schedule that includes some games against teams grouped together by the Baseball Alliance of Minnesota, a joint venture between the Metro Baseball League and Minnesota Youth Athletic Services. Farmington filled in with games against teams that aren’t part of the Baseball Alliance, instead opting for a fully independent schedule.

The season will run until mid-August. Postseason playoffs will not be held in order to allow teams to schedule as many games as possible.

Farmington won its first four games last week, and at the end of the week Baskerville answered some questions about how it all came together.

My understanding is you were looking for a way to have a season this summer almost from the day the Minnesota American Legion canceled its season. Was it difficult to put together, and were there other options you considered in addition to the Baseball Alliance?

It was important to me to give the guys (especially the seniors) a chance to play this summer. It wasn’t as easy as most summers … let’s just say that. We were lucky enough to have support and help from our great parents. The alternative to the Baseball Alliance was going the “independent” route. We thought it would be easier to join the alliance for the fact that they would provide us with a schedule. In the end, their scheduling committee was unable to meet so we were left to schedule games on our own after all. It’s tough to schedule games in that short of a time period but luckily we were still able to get over 20 games on the calendar.

Did most of the players who were going to play on the Legion team sign up for the Baseball Alliance season?

Yes. We had a few decide not to play at the last minute. But for the most part, these guys were itching to compete with their teammates in any form possible.

How many practices (if any) did you have before the first game? Were you pleased with your guys’ play in the first two games?

We had two light practices before our first game just to get guys used to being on the field again. We definitely had some rust to shake off but overall I was proud of how the guys came out after a long layoff.

I don’t believe the Baseball Alliance is having a playoff or postseason tournament. Is it possible to do an end-of-season tournament outside the Baseball Alliance?

Unfortunately it’s looking unlikely this season as most of the graduating seniors are heading off to college around the end of the baseball season.

What are your players’ goals for this brief season, considering the unusual circumstances?

I think most of the guys have the understanding that this is a very unusual summer. I want to get guys playing as much as possible, so I’ve been proud of how my guys have supported one another whether they are in the game or not. Honestly, I think their goal is and should be to just have fun and try to forget about some of the negative things that have taken place this year.

Tigers roster (number)

Max Darrington (25), Owen Zahn (70), Frank Vogel (4), Shain Kimmes (1), Matt Beem (6), Travis Ruesink (12), Gavin Lund (27), Zach Walton (17), Noah Drusch (10), Kellen Lewis (11), Garrett Meihofer (51), Matt Higgins (33), T.J. Bergland (3), Carson Blasing (7), Mason Koch (45), Heath Bailey (13), Sam Baldwin (99).

Highlights

Farmington opened with a 10-3 victory over West St. Paul on July 6, followed by a 14-10 victory over Excelsior Blue the next evening at Tiger Field.

On July 8, Mason Koch was 3-for-3 with a home run and double as the Tigers defeated Eastview Blue 6-3. Winning pitcher Matt Higgins worked the first 6 2/3 innings.

Sam Baldwin pitched the first six innings in Farmington’s 5-4 victory over Cretin-Derham Hall last Friday, with T.J. Bergland pitching the last inning to earn a save.

Upcoming games

Thursday, July 16: vs. Eastview, 6 p.m.

Monday, July 20: at Eden Prairie (Round Lake Stadium), 7 p.m.

Thursday, July 23: at Apple Valley (Legion Field), 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 25: vs. Cretin-Derham Hall, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Tuesday, July 28: at Wayzata (Wayzata High School), 7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Aug. 1: at Excelsior (Minnetonka High School), 7:30 p.m.

Sunday, Aug. 2: at Forest Lake (Schumacher Field), 5 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 3: vs. Eastview, 6 p.m.

Wednesday, Aug. 5: at St. Thomas Academy (West St. Paul), 4 and 6 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 7: at Eagan (Goat Hill Park), 5 and 8 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 10: at Eastview (Eastview High School), 6 p.m.

Friday, Aug. 14: at Eagan (Goat Hill Park), 8 p.m.

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