Class C first weekend recap: Catch up on the happenings from the first games

By Patrick Johnson

Hope stayed alive for some, but others’ dreams were dashed as Class C’s 48-team tournament was whittled to 32 following the opening round of the 6-round town ball state tournament, held Aug. 18-20 in Delano, Litchfield and Dassel. 

This season marks the 100th year of the tournament. Roughly 300 teams compete in townball in Minnesota every summer, making it one of the most prolific states in the country as far as town ball participation goes. 

Last year, in 2022, the Nisswa Lightning defeated the Buckman Billygoats 12-3 for the Class C state championship. This year, however, the Delano A’s are the likely favorites to win the title, with the championship game held on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 4 at 1 p.m. in Delano. 

Watkins Clippers 3, Carlos Cougars 0

Geislinger’s 19-strikeout performance highlights opening weekend

Watkins player/coach Matt Geislinger struck out an eye-popping 19 batters while walking none and allowing just five hits as the Clippers shutout the Carlos Cougars 3-0 in the first round of the Class C state tournament on Saturday, Aug. 19 in Litchfield. 

Watkins totaled just five hits in the game, but drew nine walks to earn the win. Carson Geislinger drew a bases-loaded walk in the first inning for a 1-0 lead and a lead-off walk by Landon Niemen turned into a run after another walk, a fielder’s choice and an error for 2-0 lead.

In the third inning, Carson Geislinger and Matt Geislinger drew back-to-back one-out walks and Carson Geislinger scored on a single from Lincoln Haugen to make it 3-0.

In his 16th season with Watkins, Matt Geislinger — Watkins ace — is still one of the state’s best pitchers. He won the Mike Davison Award for Most Outstanding Pitcher in the 2020 Class C state amateur baseball tournament as the Clippers allowed only one run over three games, but eventually lost 1-0 in 13 innings to Bird Island to be eliminated. 

After recovering from a shoulder injury that ended his season last year, Matt was unbeaten this regular season, allowing just one earned run in eight starts. 

Matt’s dad, Bruce Geislinger, was a key player for a Watkins Clippers team that qualified for the Minnesota Baseball Association state tournament in 12 of 15 years between 1989 and 2003 — winning the Class C state title in 2001. Bruce won four games on the mound in that tournament and was named MVP.

Matt was the Clippers’ batboy the year Bruce Geislinger and Watkins won the Class C state championship, in 2001. 

Watkins now faces Region 7 champion Waconia Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Dassel.

Nisswa Lightning 14, Carver Black Sox 2, 7 innings

Lightning brings the thunder in first game of title defense

In defense of its 2022 Class C title, Nisswa brought its bats to its first round, 14-2, seven-inning win over the Carver Black Sox on Sunday, Aug. 20, in Delano. 

The defending Class C state champion Lightning hit a pair of three-run homers and starter Nate DeChaine scattered six hits over five innings to earn the win. DeChaine walked three and struck out five, allowing two runs (one earned). The 10-run rule took effect after seven innings.

Aaron Jenkins capped a six-run second inning with his three-run home run and DeChaine’s blast capped off a five-run fourth inning. In addition, the bottom three in the Lightning batting order — Drew Boland, Tyler Wittwer and Matt Casperson —  were a combined 3-for-4 with five walks.

In its title-defending season, Nisswa went 17-2 in the Victory League on the year. Its only losses came against the Buckman Billygoats, the team it beat to win the 2022 title. This was the Black Sox’s eighth trip to state and the sixth in the last seven years.

The Lightning play next at 11 a.m. Sunday against the Cannon Falls Bears in Litchfield.

New Ulm Brewers 5, Waterville Indians 0

Brockenstedt one-hits Waterville for win

New Ulm starter Mitch Brockenstedt one-hit the Waterville Indians, throwing eight scoreless innings in a 5-0 win on Sunday, Aug. 20, in Delano. Ethan Stade got the final three outs in the ninth. In the win, Brockenstedt struck out four and walked four on just 87 pitches and Justin Hoffman scored what turned out to be the only run the Brewers would need in the bottom of the first inning. 

New Ulm’s Wade French and Trevor Nissen hit back-to-back doubles in the sixth inning to make it a 2-0 game. Then, in the eighth inning, Hunter Ranweiler made it a 5-0 game with a bases-clearing double to complete the scoring.

New Ulm had 12 hits in the game. Ranweiler led the way, going 3-for-3 with two walks, a double and two RBIs. 

The Brewers, who went 24-5 after starting the season 3-4, play the Faribault Lakers in a 4:30 p.m. game on Sunday, Aug. 27 in Delano.

Elrosa Saints 4, Hadley Buttermakers 3

Peters, Saints walk-off over Hadley

Elrosa shortstop Jackson Peters ripped a two-out RBI single to give the Saints a walk-off, 4-3, win over the Hadley Buttermakers on Sunday, Aug. 19, in Dassel. In the see-saw game, 

Hadley’s Brent Hokeness hit a two-run homer to give the Buttermakers a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning. The Saints, however, tied the game 3-3 in the eighth inning to set up Peters’ final-inning heroics. Elrosa’s Brett Engelmeyer (a draftee from Greenwald) struck out five batters in his five innings of work before Cold Spring draftee Cole Fuchs and winning pitcher Payton VanBeck finished off the Buttermakers. Tucker Sorenson struck out eight and held Elrosa to two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings for Hadley in the tough-luck loss.

The Saints advance to play the Minneota Mudhens, the top seed out of Region 9, on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 4:30 p.m. in Litchfield. It is believed Minneota’s townball team hasn’t reached state since 1936.

Chisago Lakes Bulldogs 4, Veseli Warriors 3

Bulldogs edge Veseli in see-saw affair

In a back-and-forth contest, Chicago Lakes catcher Adam Brown hit a two-out, go-ahead RBI single in the sixth inning and the Bulldogs held on to beat Veseli 4-3 on Saturday, Aug. 19 in Dassel. Isanti draftee Phil Bray shut the door on Veseli in the final frame, securing the win for Chisago Lakes. 

In the game, Veseli scored in the first inning for a 1-0 lead, however, the Bulldogs answered with two runs on three hits in the bottom of the first inning to go ahead 2-1. Veseli catcher Mac Olson then gave the Warriors a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning with an RBI single. 

But, the Bulldogs would again answer in its half of the fifth inning as Alex Wilkey’s single drove in Reed Marquardt to tie the game 3-3. Chisago Lakes now takes on the Fergus Falls Hurricanes on Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 p.m. in Delano. 

New York Mills Millers 3, Regal Eagles 2

Kupfer solo shot puts New York Mills up for good

New York Mills’ Brandon Kupfer’s go-ahead solo home run in the  bottom of the eighth inning proved to be the big hit the Millers needed in a 3-2 win over the Regal Eagles on Saturday, Aug. 19 in Litchfield. Despite participating in the state tournament four of the past seven years, it was New York Mills’ first state tournament win since 1969. 

In the game, Regal – which has not won a state tournament game since 1997 – took a 1-0 lead on three-straight singles and an RBI squeeze bunt by Adrian Beldon’s squeeze bunt. Blake Karsch later scored on an RBI single from Chi Schneider for a 2-0 Eagles’ lead.

New York Mills, which went the first five innings without a hit, finished with just four hits — but two of them came in the seventh inning, including a two-run double from Derin Gaudette to score Adam Patron to tie things at 2-2, setting up Kupfer’s eighth-inning heroics. 

Nick Lindberg, a draftee from Vergas-Frazee, kept the Millers in the game with four innings of one-hit ball.

New York Mills faces Region 11 champion Sartell Sunday, Aug. 27, in Litchfield. 

Plato Blue Jays 5, St. Stephen Steves 1

Hedtke, Plato silence St. Stephen

The Plato Blue Jays ace Drew Hedtke and the Blue Jays kept the Stephen Steves at bay in a 5-1 win in the first game of the Class C State Tournament on Friday night, Aug. 18, in Dassel. 

Plato, out of the Crow River Valley League, has state titles in 1996, 2007, 2015 and 2018. 

St. Stephen actually outhit Plato 7-4 in the game with Steves’ starting pitcher Jack Greenlun taking the tough-luck loss. 

The Blue Jays now face off with the Luverne Redbirds, the top seed from region 13C on Saturday, Aug. 26 in Delano. 

Kimball Express 4, Dumont Saints 2

Marquardt, Kimball come from behind to take down Dumont

Kimball came away with a 4-2 come-from-behind win after Brooks Marquardt’s bases-loaded single in the top of the eighth plated two runs to break a 2-2 tie on the state tournament’s opening night – Friday, Aug. 19 – in Litchfield. 

Kimball starter Zak Wallner threw eight strong innings, allowing two earned runs (both in the first inning) and Tommy Freisen got a double play and a ground out to second base to preserve the win for the Express

Down, 2-0 Kimball tied the game in the top of the sixth with a pair of runs. Cade Marquardt singled to start the inning, moved to third on an error and scored on a groundout by Scott Marquardt. Zach Schmidt single drove home Cody Leither, who was a pinch runner for Adam Beyer, after the latter had reached on an error. 

Dumont starter Jordon Roos allowed four runs — two earned — on nine hits, walked four and struck out 10 in the loss.

Kimball now faces Region 8 champion Buckman on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Litchfield. 

Spring Hill Chargers 6, Roseau Royals 4

Smart base running by Schoenberg leads to Spring Hill win

Spring Hill’s Corey Schoenberg broke a 4-4 tie, taking home on a throw to first after a dropped third strike call, putting the Chargers up 5-4 on route to a 6-4 win over the Roseau Royals on Saturday, Aug. 19, in Litchfield. A batter after Schoenberg’s craftiness, Spring Hill’s Jamie Terres knocked home Eric Terres with a single for a big insurance run and a 6-4 lead. 

Spring Hill totaled 13 hits in the win. Eric Terres led the way, going 4-for-5 with two runs. Schoenberg finished 3-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a run and Jamie Terres finished 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run. 

Anthony Revermann picked up the win in relief for Spring Hill after allowing one run on one hit with one walk and striking out one in an inning of work. Spring Hill starter Ben Welle threw seven innings, allowing three runs on six hits. Grant Ludwig closed it out for the Chargers, allowing one hit and a walk in the ninth.

Roseau left 11 runners on base in the loss while the Chargers made Region 15 a perfect 3-0 on the first weekend.

Spring Hill will face Delano Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Delano.

Hutchinson Huskies 2, Fairmont Martins 0

Glaser, Hutchinson shutout Fairmont

In a battle of two perennial Class C contenders, Hutchinson starting pitcher Lane Glaser shutout Fairmont to vault the Huskies into the second round with a 2-0 win over the Martins on Saturday, Aug. 19 in Litchfield. 

Fairmont won the 2020 state title while Hutchinson finished second in 2019.

Glaser outdueled Martins starter Spencer Chirpich by tossing eight shutout innings, striking out five, walking three and scattering seven hits before handing the ball to Zach Kuseske, who struck out the side to seal the win.

Chirpich pitched well in his six innings for Fairmont, allowing one run, walking one and striking out six. 

Hutchinson scored its two runs after five innings of scoreless baseball. The Huskies’ Matt Piechowski led off the sixth inning with a single, Jayden Fleck moved him over to second on a sacrifice bunt and a Jake Wendland ground out pushed him to third before a wild pitch allowed him to cross home plate. Hutchinson added to the lead in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Marcus Hahn plated Piechowki to make it 2-0.

Hutchinson faces the Hinckley Knights on Saturday, Aug. 26, in Dassel. 

Loretto Larks 8, Luxemberg Brewers 3

Five-run eighth inning leads Loretto over Luxemberg

A five-run eighth inning by Loretto broke a 3-3 tie as the Larks topped the Luxemberg Brewers 8-3 in the opening round of the Class C state tournament on Saturday, Aug. 19, in Delano. 

Loretto starting pitcher Miles Nablo — a key member of a Chanhassen Red Birds club that won four consecutive titles between 2018 and 2021 — earned the win for the Larks. 

Brandan Brolin had three of the Larks’ nine hits — including two doubles — drew an intentional walk and had two RBIs. 

Andrew Kemper, called into duty for the final out of the seventh inning, earned the win for Loretto, going 2 1/3 innings after Nablo struck out eight batters, allowing two earned runs on six hits and three walks.

Loretto will face St. Martin on Sunday, Aug. 27 in Litchfield the second round. 

Monticello Polecats 4, Raymond Rockets 0

Otto throws three-hit shutout in 4-0 win

Monticello ace Alex Otto threw a three-hit, complete-game shutout to help lead the Polecats to a 4-0 win over the Raymond Rockets on Sunday, Aug. 20, in Dassel, earning a trip to weekend No. 2. Otto struck out six batters, allowing three hits and no walks.

Otto, a 2019 graduate of Monticello High School, played two sports at St. John’s University. In December 2021, Otto was in a car accident that could have cost him his life— leaving him with a shattered ulna, a fractured humerus, a dislocated shoulder and a partially severed ulnar nerve. He now has a large scar and a rod in his non-throwing arm and still has a loss of feeling on the outside of his hand. This is Otto’s first year pitching again.

In the win, Monticello’s Sam Dokkebakken and Jason Axelberg each had RBI-singles in the first and fifth innings for Monticello, respectively, and Polecats catcher Dustin Wilcox drove in two runs in the eighth-inning with a double for the 4-0 lead.

Cole Christensen gave up two runs on seven hits with six strikeouts over six innings in the loss for Raymond.

Monticello moves on to face Bluffton in the second round on Friday, Aug. 25, in Litchfield.

Maple Lake Lakers 12, Union Hill Bulldogs 8, 11 innings

Lakers score four runs in 11th to crush Union Hill comeback

Union Hill came back from an eight-run deficit only to be upended by Maple Lake in a 12-8, 11-inning first-round state tournament win on Sunday, Aug. 20, in Dassel. 

Tied 8-8, Maple Lake scored four runs in the 11th inning for the win. Lakers catcher Matt Bergstrom broke the tie with an 11th-inning RBI-single. 

Maple Lake’s Hunter Malachek starred at the plate and on the mound. Malachek, who took the no-decision, pitched the first six innings and finished 4-for-5 with four runs scored, a double and a home run that put the Lakers up 8-0 in the sixth inning. 

However, down eight runs, Union Hill rallied with four runs in the sixth inning and four runs in the eighth inning to tie the game. The Bulldogs loaded the bases with one out in the ninth inning and had runners on second and third base with one out in the 10th inning, but were unable to score in either situation.

Jordan Flick, a draftee from Dassel-Cokato, pitched four innings of relief for Maple Lake for the win. 

Maple Lake will take on the Courtland Cubs in the second round at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27 in Dassel. 

Courtland, who won the Region 2 title by beating rival Stark 3-2 in the regional championship, qualified for the state tournament for the first time since 1945.

Avon Lakers 4, Red Wing Aces 0

Austing, Avon keep Aces’ bats quiet 

Avon starter Dominic Austing threw a four-hit, eight-inning shutout, striking out nine in a 4-0 first-round state tournament win over the Red Wing Aces on Sunday, Aug. 20 in Dassel. 

Avon’s Reese Gregory pitched the ninth inning to preserve the win for the Lakers.

Three early runs was all Austing and Avon would need. The Lakers scored twice in the first inning, and added another insurance run in the second inning.

For Avon, Elian Mezquita went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Joe Dolan and Ryan Janzen each had a double and scored a run for Avon.

Zach Harding had a double for Red Wing, one of five Aces to record a hit. Ben Kuehni pitched 4 2/3 innings for Red Wing, allowing one hit and no runs with four strikeouts.

Avon now plays Hibbing at 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 27 in the second round.

Blue Earth Pirates 7, Stark Longhorns 2

Magers comes in to shut down Stark

Louis Magers threw 5 and 2/3 innings of no-hit, shutout baseball in relief in Blue Earth’s 7-2 opening round win over Stark on Sunday, Aug. 20, in Delano. 

Magers entered the game and got the Pirates out of a jam with the score tied 2-2 in the top of the fourth inning. With two runners on and one out, the St. Clair Wood Ducks draftee struck out the Stark Longhorns’ lead-off and No. 2 hitters to end the scoring threat, then shut out the Longhorns the rest of the way. 

Belle Plaine draftee Derek Dahlke started for Blue Earth, allowing two earned runs on six hits. Magers gave up no hits, walked four and struck out eight to earn the win.

Blue Earth broke the 2-2 tie with three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, then added single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to complete the scoring. 

For Blue Earth, Logan O’Hara hit a two-run home run in the sixth inning, Cody Sukalski had two doubles, Brandyn Olsen was 2-for-3 with a walk and Lee Hodges scored twice and was 2-for-4 with an RBI double. The Pirates totalled 11 hits in the win. 

It was Stark’s 16th trip to state and the third straight. Blue Earth had not been to the tournament since 2017. The Pirates now take on Bird Island Sunday. Aug. 27 at 1:30 p.m. in Dassel.

Green Isle Irish 4, Jackson Bulls 3

Hartmann’s double proves to be the difference in 4-3 win over Jackson

Green Isle’s Nate Hartman’s two-run double in the top of the ninth inning proved to be the difference in the Irish’s 4-3 opening-round win over the Jackson Bulls on Saturday, Aug. 19, in Delano. After Green Isle took a 2-1 lead on a Walter Johnson run-scoring single in the sixth inning, Hartmann padded the lead, 4-1, in the first half of the final frame. 

Down 4-1 in the ninth, the Bulls — at state for the first time since 2018 — rallied, scoring twice, and had the go-ahead and winning runs on first and second base with two outs, but a ground out ended the game.

Holt Hunziker, a draftee from Watertown, pitched the final five innings in relief against a Jackson team he once played for, earning the win for Green Isle. Jack Jahnke started the game for the Irish, striking out four batters.

Green Isle next faces Jordan at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26 in Dassel. 


First Round

Friday, Aug. 18

(7B) Plato Blue Jays 5, (8C) St. Stephen Steves 1

(15C) Kimball Express 4, (9B) Dumont Saints 2

Saturday, Aug. 19

(15D) Spring Hill Chargers 6, (10B) Roseau Royals 4

(15B) Elrosa Saints 4, (13D) Hadley Buttermakers 3

(1B) Chisago Lakes Bulldogs 4, (3C) Veseli Warriors 3

(14B) New York Mills Millers 3, (4C) Regal Eagles 2

(12B) Hutchinson Huskies 2, (13C) Fairmont Martins 0

(12D) Loretto Larks 8, (11B) Luxemberg Brewers 3

(11C) Watkins Clippers 3, (16B) Carlos Cougars 0

(7C) Green Isle Irish 4, (13B) Jackson Bulls 3

Sunday, Aug. 20

(11D) Monticello Polecats 4, (4B) Raymond Rockets 0

(12C) Maple Lake Lakers 12, (3B) Union Hill Bulldogs 8, 11 innings

(8B) Nisswa Lightning 14, (7D) Carver Black Sox 2, 7 innings

(2B) New Ulm Brewers 5, (6C) Waterville Indians 0

(8D) Avon Lakers 4, (5B) Red Wing Aces 0

(6B) Blue Earth Pirates 7, (2C) Stark Longhorns 2

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