SC Times: Cold Spring, Watkins prep for summer

Posted on April 26, 2015

Story courtesy of Tom Elliott, St. Cloud Times

COLD SPRING – The cities of Cold Spring and Watkins are the desired destination point for every amateur baseball team this year as the 2015 season commences Sunday.

The two are host to the state tournament in August. Both communities have pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into their ballparks in anticipation of the 48 Class C and 16 Class B teams expected for the annual tournament that began in 1924.

“I think it’s going to be a lot of fun around here this year,” Cold Spring Rockies manager Tom Ficker said.

Kurt Hemmesch, treasurer of the Cold Spring Baseball, Inc., Association, said he expects the final price tag at his park to reach $250,000.

Cold Spring’s park will have a new grandstand, concession stand, entry way and party deck.

“Have you been out here?” Hemmesch said. “Everything’s looking a lot different.”

There is a grand opening event where contributors and volunteers will be honored at 5 p.m. May 16. The Cold Spring Springers and Cold Spring Rockies play.

Then, there is Cold Spring’s Third Annual Day At The Ballpark on June 27.

The day begins with Richmond playing the Cold Spring Silver Springers 35-and-over team at 12:30 p.m. Next is a game between the New Munich Silver Streaks vs. the Cold Spring Rockies around 2:45 p.m. At 5 p.m., the Cold Spring Springers play the Sobieski Skis.

Baseball enthusiasts, take note. That’s the defending Class B state champs (the Springers) vs. the defending Class C state champs (the Skis).

The event concludes with an 8 p.m. performance by the Fabulous Armadillos. Hemmesch called the first two events lucrative and extremely important in helping pay for all the park upgrades.

Similar upgrades and work have gone into Watkins, which is host to the state tournament for the first time.

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For the Rockies, this also is a year where many veteran players will be taking the field for the last time, Ficker said.

“For us this year, it’s not just about us getting everything in order with the field, but to do it on the field, too,” said Rockies first baseman Reece Hemmesch, who is Kurt’s son. “We really want to get to the state tournament this year and send all our veterans out with a bang.

“We honestly want to play in front of a huge crowd this year (at state). We’ve kind of dialed in to doing that.”

The Rockies initially were to open the Central Valley League season Sunday against Luxemburg. But because not all the upgrades are completed, the game has been postponed.

“The field’s ready,” Ficker said. “But the other stuff isn’t.

“The weather this week has put us behind some.”

Kurt Hemmesch said the new aluminum seating will be installed this week.

Royals-Martins tilt

The Stearns County League has four games scheduled today, including Richmond at St. Martin, Roscoe at Meire Grove, New Munich at Spring Hill and Elrosa at Greenwald.

The Richmond/St. Martin game has an intriguing story. Ben Schroeder, who was one of the top pitchers in the league last year, has left Richmond and signed with St. Martin.

“In my mind, we lost our best pitcher and maybe the best pitcher in the league,” Richmond manager Kirby Hemmesch said. “He told us he wanted to try something new.”

The Martins, who won the Region 15C tournament last year, certainly don’t mind.

“He was honestly the best pitcher we faced last year,” St. Martin manager Carl Lieser said.

Skis open

The 19-team Victory League had four games last week. This week, there is a full schedule, including the Sobieski Skis opening at Fort Ripley.

“Our first three games this year are Fort Ripley, Opole and Nisswa and that’s going to be a real challenge right out of the gate,” Sobieski manager Brad Czech said. “The Victory League is going to be awfully tough again this year.”

The Skis return Tyler Jendro, the state tournament MVP. The right-hander won all six state games on the mound, pitching a no-hitter along the way. Sobieski also lost longtime player/coach Nate Olson.

The Skis also will be without three key college players. Joey Hanowski and Collin Eckman play for Bemidji State. Josh Wenzel plays for Minnesota State-Mankato.

Czech said he is excited to have veteran right-hander Simon Waltman back. Waltman hasn’t played since 2011 because of Tommy John surgery, but already has seen mound time in exhibition play.

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