Minnetonka Domination

LOOKING BACK: Class A titan Minnetonka begins dominating run

The Minnetonka Millers hold the Minnesota amateur baseball record for most state titles by one organization and the most consecutive state tournament appearances with the first of those state championships came in 1997. A second championship followed in 1998 25 years ago as the second in a set of three that helped establish the Millers as a titan of Class A baseball.
Minnetonka won another set of three straight titles from 2015-17 — a feat rarely seen in Minnesota amateur baseball history. Only the Millers, Albert Lea and Chanhassen have won three or more consecutive titles.
Back in the early 1990s, Kevin Hoy and others started assembling a roster capable of capturing state titles. Minnetonka added players from Minnesota State University, Mankato and the University of Minnesota, Duluth and it led to a second-place finish at the 1994 state tournament. It’d take another three years and another second-place finish before the Millers found that elusive state crown.
“I think it really started going around ‘94 when the foundation was laid,” Hoy said. “You have to season yourself. Those teams were the building blocks.”
The roster included the likes of Matt Parrington, Bryan Krull, Dave Wohlwend, Brian Seesz, Chris Urbain, Brad Kearin, Todd Wilson, Mike Berset, Mark Young, Bill Koppi and Dave Bigham. Urbain, Seesz, Parrington, Wilson, Koppi and Krull all played at MSU. Kearin played at the University of Minnesota from 1993-96 and Bigham pitched in the Minnesota Twins farm system. Berset played at UMD and Wohlwend played at the University of Illinois.
“It begins and ends with Kevin because he has done such an amazing job,” Urbain said.
Even with that amount of talent, it still took the group time to reach the pinnacle of an amateur state title. 
The Millers fought their way to their first state title in 1997 with an opening round 7-1 win over Rosetown, followed by a 4-0 win over the Minneapolis Angels. Minnetonka got by Lyon’s Pub 5-4 in the semifinals before knocking off St. Louis Park 7-4 in the title game at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Millers didn’t have as many obstacles to their second and third consecutive titles. In 1998, Minnetonka opened with a 15-3 win over the Minneapolis Angels, then beat Druk’s 12-3. The Millers trailed heading into the ninth inning in the semifinals against Stewart Title but came through with a rally in the top of the ninth to win 9-4 and face St. Louis Park again in the championship. The second championship meeting wasn’t as close as the first one and the Millers ran away with the title 16-3. St. Louis Park, to its credit, rattled off four straight wins in the loser’s bracket to reach the title game after dropping a first-round game 8-7 to Stewart Title. 
“For three years prior to that, I felt like we were a good enough team to do it,” Urbain said. “Coming back to repeat in ‘98 was a huge deal. The on-field stuff is memorable but the bigger story is the friendships you’re developing.”
Minnetonka and St. Louis Park has developed into one of the best rivalries in the state as it started forming in earnest in 1997. St. Louis Park didn’t claim its first title until 2002 and has added titles in 2008, 2018 and 2022 since. The Millers and St. Louis Park met 20 years after the first time they met for the state title in the 2017 state tournament and played twice to decide a champion after St. Louis Park won the first meeting 4-3 after advancing through the loser’s bracket. But the Millers won the second game 11-9 to claim their third straight title.
Minnetonka has made 31, and counting, consecutive state tournaments and won 15 titles in a stretch of 23 years. Cold Spring had a streak of 23 consecutive state tournament appearances from 1988-2010 and besides the Millers, no team has double-digit state title totals.

 

1998 CLASS A STATE TOURNAMENT BRACKET

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