LOOKING BACK: GLENCOE BREWS UP MAGIC

By Nick Gerhardt

news@mnbaseball.org

To make a deep state tournament run a few things typically need to go a team’s way. Glencoe needed some magic at the 1998 state tournament and even some during the Region 7 tournament to advance to the state tournament in Chaska and Hamburg.

The Brewers put together a pedestrian 16-11 record during the season as they dealt with injuries and struggled with consistent fielding. Glencoe got healthy shortly before the playoffs started and shored up its defense to put together one of the better runs through the state tournament.

“The defense we played was amazing,” former Glencoe right fielder Nate Gorr said. “I think we felt like we had great athletes at every spot but we’d generally have to score a bunch of runs to make up for the errors we made. I think we felt like we owed it to our pitchers who were pitching so well.”

The Brewers’ run started when pitcher Brian Jenneke got healthy to start throwing again. Jenneke cut his pitching hand with just a few weeks left before the playoffs started but healed just in time to make a postseason push. 

Glencoe also benefited from draftees, like catcher Pat Dressen from Watertown, Clint Zellmann from New Germany and Dave Donahue from Watertown. By all accounts, Dressen’s hitting through the region tournament carried the Brewers to a second-place finish behind region champ Green Isle and locked up a trip to the state tournament. The Brewers advanced to the 1996 state tournament, which served as the first trip back since 1988.

Glencoe needed a comeback win over Watertown just to reach the region tournament in the 1998 season. 

“It all started in our league playoffs,” former manager Dave Sell said. “We were kind of coming through the loser’s bracket and we needed to win. We were actually down pretty big against Watertown. … If we would’ve lost that game against Watertown we were done. We came back and won so that got us to the regions.” 

Sometimes the stars just align at the right time for a team to make a memorable run, like the Brewers in 1998.

“I’ve been involved since 1982 and I don’t ever recall anything like that,” Sell said. “Even in our regular playoffs and region, I don’t want to say we were nothing special, but all of a sudden Brian got hot. He was just unhittable through the state tournament. We basically just rode him every week.”

Glencoe, which shares a school district with Plato, stood in the shadow of the Blue Jays a little at that time after Plato captured the 1996 state title. 

“Some of my friends on the Plato team would tease us that we got to the championship in Class C without them,” Gorr said.

With Plato in Class B in 1998, the Brewers grabbed the spotlight with thrilling victories, including a walk-off championship win over Richmond in Hamburg.

Jenneke set a tournament record that still stands by striking out 54 hitters while going 4-0 on the mound. He walked just four and allowed 24 hits in 33 1/3 innings. Jenneke entered the tournament as a 21-year-old junior at North Dakota State University, then a Division-II school and used a mix of breaking pitches and fastballs to carve up hitters. He struck out 16 hitters against Union Hill and again against Jackson. 

“Barry Wohler umped one of our games and I talked to him after the game and he’s like, ‘If that would’ve been a regular season game I think you would’ve had 22, 23 strikeouts,’” Jenneke said. “If the ump was giving me two inches on the corner, I was putting it two inches on the corner.”

Jenneke did not start the championship game. Instead Donahue got the ball and went 6 1/3 innings before Zellmann threw the final 2 2/3 innings.

Richmond led 4-2 heading to the ninth inning before three errors allowed the Brewers to score three runs for the win.

In the ninth, Nate Parpart tripled to right center field with one out and later scored on a throwing error that allowed Judd Christensen to reach first to make it a 4-3 game. Gorr reached on an error to allow the inning to continue and put runners on the corners for Dressen. A wild pitch allowed Christensen to score from third to tie the game.

Dressen later walked and Dale Dose flew out to left field to bring Paul Hahn to the plate with two outs and Gorr standing on second base. Hahn hit a ground ball back to the pitcher but a wild throw to first base allowed Gorr to cross home plate for the 5-4 walk-off state championship victory.

Parpart entered the game to replace left fielder Paul Lilienthal, who got ejected in the bottom of the seventh for arguing a strikeout in another twist of fate for the Brewers. 

Glencoe jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Dose scored on a double from Tracy Christensen.

Richmond answered in the fifth inning but Glencoe grabbed a 2-1 lead in the sixth inning via a solo home run from Hahn.

The Royals tied the game 2-2 in the seventh with a suicide squeeze when Jon Dold scored on Corky Adams’ bunt. Dold, who hit 26 home runs that year, had two hits in the championship game.

The Royals rallied in the eighth for two runs to grab a 4-2 lead before Glencoe scored a walk-off win.

Glencoe defeated Richmond 9-4 two days earlier and the Royals needed a victory over the Brewers to force a second game to decide the championship.

Besides the pitching and improved defense, the timely hit became a hallmark of Glencoe’s run. 

“Dale Dose and Paul Hahn mashed the ball at the right times,” Gorr said. 

Dose hit a grand slam against Richmond in the first meeting while Hahn homered against Union Hill. 

BREWING UP MAGIC

Glencoe began the tournament with a 4-2 win over Region 9 champion Morris. The Brewers defeated Region 4 champion Union Hill 4-2 in the second round before facing top-ranked Jackson, which entered the game with a 24-2 record.  

Hahn hit a solo home run in the second inning against Union Hill and Gorr added a two-run shot in the fifth, which ended up as plenty for Jenneke, who struck out 16 hitters. 

Jenneke struck out 16 batters and allowed just three hits against the Bulls in a 2-0 victory that seemed to put the wind at the backs of the Glencoe players the rest of the tournament.

A 9-4 win over Richmond put the Brewers into the semifinals and a matchup with Springfield. Glencoe defeated the Tigers 8-6 to reach the title game.

RICHMOND’S RUN

Richmond became the first Stearns County League team to reach the state championship game. In fact, the Royals became the first Stearns County League team to advance past the second round of the state tournament. Hard to believe. 

Richmond, despite appearing in five state tournaments after 1998, had not won a state tournament game again until 2022 when the Royals beat Hinckley 10-6 in the first round. The 1998 opening round state tournament win ended a 10-year win drought for the Royals at the state tournament, though they appeared in six state tournaments during that span.  

The Stearns County League still seeks a championship team, though Lake Henry advanced to the championship in 2017.

Richmond escaped with a 5-4 opening round win over Cannon Falls in the 1998 tournament and followed that with an 8-3 win over Sobieski to meet Litchfield in the third round. The Royals defeated the Blues 9-8 with a come-from-behind walk-off win when Kip Sparby singled with two outs to score Dold.

Richmond led 5-1 before seeing Litchfield come back to take a 6-5 lead in the top of the eighth. The Royals scored three runs in the bottom of the eighth for an 8-6 lead but the Blues tied it in the top of the ninth.

Following a 9-4 loss to Glencoe, Richmond defeated Montgomery 8-4 to move on to face Springfield for a trip to the title game on the line. Springfield jumped ahead 8-0 by the fourth inning before the Royals rallied for a 12-8 win. Dold hit a grand slam in the bottom of the fourth to halve the lead and made it a two-run game after the bottom of the fifth. In the sixth inning, Richmond grabbed its first lead of the game with a five-run inning that included a grand slam from Sparby.

1998 CLASS C STATE TOURNAMENT BRACKET

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