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Big news from Park (Cottage Grove) High School: The Wolfpack have hired former Major League pitcher Kerry Ligtenberg as their head baseball coach. Ligtenberg, a 1989 graduate of the school, takes over for longtime coach Reid Tschumperlin, who resigned.
Ligtenberg was a three-time letterwinner at Park before pitching for the Gophers in college. He then was a relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves from 1997-2002, finishing fourth in the 1998 American League Rookie of the Year voting.
Ligtenberg tried a comeback with the St. Paul Saints in 2009, but retired later that summer. Here's a story I did on Ligtenberg from his Saints "tryout" day April 30 of last year:
It's back to the drawing board at Apple Valley.
Former Twins player and coach Al Newman was in line to be the Eagles' varsity coach this spring after accepting the vacant job earlier this year. But Wednesday he confirmed that will not happen because there was a possibility of bigger fish to fry.
"I could not leave [Apple Valley] hanging," Newman said. "Sometimes opportunities come up, and I felt like if I was considering another job I had to be fair to Apple Valley. I was looking forward to it, and I told [Athletics Director] Pete Buesgens I still want to help in the offseason and be involved in boosters."
Newman, 50, would not specify exactly what job he was otherwise considering.
Newman has several previous big-league experiences. He was a utility player for the Twins during his career and helped them to World Series championships in 1987 and 1991. He later coached in the Twins' minor league system was a third base coach with the team after Ron Gardenhire took over as manager in 2002.
Al Newman might have only hit one Major League home run, but he's been around baseball all of his life. And now there's a new chapter.
Newman, the former Twins player who helped the team win World Series titles in 1987 and 1991 and then went on to coach the team at various levels, has accepted the head baseball coaching position at Apple Valley High School. He has been a coach for the American Legion team there the past two seasons.
Newman, 50, managed the Twins' Class AA New Britain Rock Cats in 1996 and 1997, was a bench coach at Class AAA Salt City in 1998 and managed the Gulf Coast League Twins from 1999-2001. He then was the third base coach for the big league club from 2002-05. He suffered a brain hemorrhage during pregame warm-ups in Chicago in 2003 but remained active.
Newman's love for the game never wavered. He was a scout for the Diamondbacks in 2006 and since 2008 has hosted a weekly sports talk show in the southern suburbs in addition to his youth coaching.
Newman also established "Newmie Rewards," a business that helps raise money and buy equipment for athletes and teams in the area.
In the final game of the day at Target Field, Eden Prairie earned the Class 3A state championship with a 7-5 victory over Lake Conference rival Burnsville.
The Eagles scored three in the first inning and tacked on two in the second to begin the attack. The runs in the first were aided by a pair of Blaze errors. Blake Schmit's triple for Eden Prairie in the second accounted for the runs in that inning.
In a losing effort, Burnsville's Brandon Peterson hit a no-doubt-about-it two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the sixth. Props for the shot - it was a rocket - but we could have done without the cocky bat toss ...
Two batters later, teammate Tom Sherman then hit a laser into the bullpen to make it 7-5, but the Eagles allowed no more.
And with that, the Prep Championship Series is complete. Here's hoping the MSHSL sets this baby up again for next year. What a day out here at the new ballpark.
The Eagles of Eden Valley-Watkins are your 2010 Class 1A baseball champs. They just completed a 7-4 victory over Sebeka for their first state championship.
Sebeka had the early advantage, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the top of the second inning. It was 4-2 until the Eden Valley-Watkins bats came alive in the bottom of the fifth. Matt Geislinger doubled in the tying run, then plated the go-ahead score. The Eagles added two more in the sixth. Geislinger, in relief of cousin Tyler, pitched the last five innings and picked up the win. He struck out six and did not allow a run.
Delano and Rocori up next for the Class 2A crown.
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