State tournament stories: Q and A with Shakopee’s Brannon Weigel

This continues a series of news stories, human interest pieces, or general info, all pertaining to the 2018 state tournament host site communities.

Five-Year Run with Two State Championships: Brannon Weigel (player/manager)

Class B State Champions, 2009 and 2010 (Shakopee Indians)

By Bob Greeley

Hometown: Fargo, North Dakota

Currently reside in Chaska

Played town ball for which teams and what years:

1993-1995 Glyndon Braves

1996 Grand Forks, North Dakota

1997-1998 Glyndon Braves

1999-2001 Minneapolis Lakers

2002-2014 Shakopee Indians

Played high school/legion ball where?

Fargo, North Dakota.  We didn’t have high school baseball back then – only legion baseball.  We’d start practice for legion baseball in April, start games around Memorial Day weekend.  At the end of the summer, we’d have played 70 games. (Editor’s Note: The Fargo American Legion team back then was highly successful. They traditionally won the North Dakota state tournament and played in the regional and sometimes qualified for the national tournament.)

Year graduated from high school: 1992 – Fargo South

Played college ball at: University of North Dakota

Came to Shakopee when: 2002

Played for the Indians what years: 2002-2014

Managed Indians what years: 2008-2014

2009 and 2010 were championship seasons for the Shakopee Indians.  What made these two seasons special?

In 2009 and 2010 we played a tough schedule. We had a good record but I think we lost almost 15 games each year.  Each year we were just happy to make it out of the section, honestly. There is no doubt in my mind that any of the other teams in our section could’ve made the same kind of run we did. We played section rival Prior Lake in the championship in 2009, after all. Once we got to the state tournament, we just needed to play defense and get some timely hitting … and then catch a few breaks. Tom Schleper told me that in order to win the title, you will need to win a game you probably shouldn’t have won – a little bit of luck helps. All the clichés of pitching, defense, and timely hitting are very true.

We had an excellent balance of veterans and youth. We had good veteran leadership in the dugout. We played good defense and pitched extremely well. We had a couple of lucky bounces go our way.  

I felt our 2011 team and 2012 teams were nearly as good as 2009 and 2010. Each year our season was ended by the eventual state champion. Sauk Rapids beat us in a thrilling game (winner qualifies for state, loser goes home) in Super Sections in 2011. Sauk Rapids won state that year. In 2012, we lost to Victoria in a best-of-5 series and didn’t make it out of our section. Victoria won state in St. Cloud in 2012. Going even one year further, in 2013 we took second in state to Cold Spring, extending our string of having the eventual state champion end our season. We had quite a fun five-year run.

Rivals those two seasons?

Aside from the section rivalries with Chaska, Jordan, Green Isle and Prior Lake these two seasons we really had some big battles with a talented Savage team that were rather memorable. We ran up against Savage in 2009 in the unbeatens game. Feeling a bit confident after beating Miesville, Savage opened up a lead on us. Some late-inning jitters by a couple Savage pitchers and some timely hitting brought the final score around to our side in walkoff fashion. In 2010, we ran into each other in the semifinals of the Austin SPAMtown tournament. We played an extra inning game that had playoff intensity. Savage won this contest but not without plenty of fireworks. The third meeting was in 2010, again in the state tournament unbeatens game. The first batter of the game for Savage hit a controversial fair/foul home run ruled a home run. After that, we were able to pull away to win the game riding a 14-strikeout performance from Dane Secott. Those were some fun games.  

Tough decisions to make who was in the lineup day-to-day?

Absolutely, this was challenging. We had a about 12 guys that would be everyday players on another team. I laid awake at night many nights trying to figure out how to keep everyone happy. I felt it was very necessary to build confidence in each player in at least one thing in order to put people in places where they can succeed the most. The month of May was for giving everyone an opportunity to do a few different things. June shored things up a little bit as the days got hotter. By early July the playoff lineup starts to mold itself together. Finally in August playoffs start. There are always a couple of question marks but for the most part things are set and people know their roles. I always told the guys that I want them to make it hard for me to not write their name down in the lineup every day. Most of the time they did just that.

1959 was the last state championship season. Shakopee traditionally has had good teams playing at the town team level. What made the difference these two seasons? What got you over the hump, so to speak?

For me a couple of things happened. With Shakopee co-hosting the state tournament in 2008, we were regulated to keeping the field nice for everyone but us. That stunk. It made a few of us strive to get better. You’re right, Shakopee has been close a number of years. The few seasons prior to 2009, hitting was never a problem. Consistent defense and pitching eluded Shakopee for a number of years. To be honest, this section was perennially one of the toughest in the state. Just getting out of the section meant a long run in the state tournament. During the spring of 2009, Chris Rupert moved to town and suddenly we had a serious big-game pitcher. In 2010, Dane Secott moves to Shakopee after his professional career ended. Now we have two big-game pitchers.

As you know, Minnesota has many fine town team ballparks. Any that stand out for you?

I’ve always wanted to attempt to count how many Minnesota ballparks I’ve played in. Walking through the Town Ball Tavern in Target Field, it is amazing to see how many awesome ballparks there are. Playing in Section 3 was truly a blessing with Shakopee, Chaska, Jordan, Prior Lake, Victoria, and Green Isle all in the section. Red Wing, Miesville, Austin and Dundas also stand out to me. I have a special memory from Waseca and Tink’s field. I’m glad they were able to rebuild the grandstand there. The fields a little farther north are phenomenal too – Perham, Wadena, Bemidji and Brainerd.  Roseau, Warroad, Thief River Falls and Crookston, too. Cold Spring, Saint Cloud and Maple Lake a little closer to the metro. I don’t know where to stop … Arlington, Sleepy Eye, Granite Falls, Bird Island, Fairfax, Delano … they all have special memories for me.

What is your best state tournament memory?

Aside from having the opportunity to celebrate twice, it would have to be the game vs. Miesville in 2009 at Gaylord. The way things were playing out in the tournament, I thought if we can get past Miesville, we will be sitting in a very advantageous position. We were down 2-0 against Luke Rasmussen and he was cruising. Then Lance Siedow singled in a run in the seventh. I doubled home two runs on the next pitch to take the lead 3-2. Standing on second base I can still see the fans cheering, the dugout slapping hands, then Ryan Seifert rising out of the dugout and begin sprinting down to the bullpen getting ready to shut the door in the final innings. That whole scene still gives me goosebumps. After winning that Miesville game was the first time I felt it might be possible the cards are going to fall in our favor when this tournament is done.

Best ballplayer you played with and against … and why?

There are so many awesome players that I played with and against. If I have to choose it’d be Brad Keenan. We played together in the mid-90s in Glyndon. He won the state tournament MVP in 1995 when we took second place. I played against Brad in the early 2000s when he was in Chaska. Then closing the circle, I got to wear the same uniform as Brad in 35-and-over league playing for the Shakopee Chiefs. I got to catch his last game that he pitched in 2016.  That was pretty special moment for me capping off 20-plus years of competing with and against Brad.

2009 Shakopee Indians Roster

Number Name Position Years Played

2 Colin O’Brien P, OF 6

3 Kyle Voltin P, OF 12

5 Zack Bohar P, IF 2

6 Joey Heller OF 4

7 Curt Hartfiel OF 5

9 Brannon Weigel Mgr,1B, C 8

10 Chris Rupert P 1

11 Aaron Olson IF 2

13 Zach McBeain OF, C 1

14 Kenny Dellwo C, OF 3

15 Jordan Triestram P, 1B 1

16 Tim Piechowski P, 1B 1

17 Lance Siedow OF 16

19 Dan Harris IF 2

20 Mike Dahl OF 3

21 Mike Anderson IF 2

24 Troy Wasiloski 3B 3

25 Nate Brown P, 1B 4

29 Kyle Green P, 1B 3

30 Andrew Zellmann C 2

32 Dan Collins P 5

33 John Hellkamp OF 1

34 Jeremy Imker IF 4

Draftees:

Ryan Seifert, Pitcher, Chaska

Trent Bohnsack, Pitcher, Jordan

Justin Johnson, Catcher, Chaska

Lineup on photo

Back row L-R: Justin Johnson (Chaska), Ryan Seifert (Chaska), Tim Piechowski, Jordan Triestram, Chris Rupert, Dan Collins, Nate Brown, Mike Anderson, Troy Wasiloski, Dan Harris, Kyle Voltin, Trent Bohnsack (Jordan)

Front row L-R: John Hellkamp, Lance Siedow, Kenny Dellwo, Kyle Green, Joey Heller, Aaron Olson, Curt Hartfiel, Zack Bohar, Andrew Zellman, Brannon Weigel

2010 Shakopee Indians Roster

Number Name Position Years Played

1 Sam Anderson P, 1B 1

2 Brandon Olson IF, OF 1

3 Andrew Marohl P 1

4 Chris Baso C 1

5 Zack Bohar P, IF 3

6 Joey Heller OF 5

7 Curt Hartfiel OF 6

9 Brannon Weigel Mgr,1B, C 9

10 Chris Rupert P 2

11 Aaron Olson IF 3

13 Zach McBeain OF, C 2

14 Kyle Hoover IF, OF 1

15 Jordan Triestram P, 1B 2

16 Tim Piechowski P, 1B 2

17 Dane Secott P 1

19 Dan Harris IF 3

21 Mike Anderson IF 3

24 Troy Wasiloski 3B 4

25 Nate Brown P, 1B 5

29 Kyle Green P, 1B 4

30 Andrew Zellmann C 3

32 Dan Collins P 6

33 John Hellkamp OF 2

34 Jeremy Imker IF 5

Draftees:

Scott Hollingsworth, Pitcher, Jordan

Trent Bohnsack, Pitcher, Jordan

Trent Simek, Catcher, Jordan

Lineup on photo

Back row L-R: Mike Anderson, Kyle Green, Andrew Zellman, Dan Collins, Dan Harris, Troy Wasiloski, Brandon Olson, Nate Brown, Tim Piechowski, Scott Hollingsworth (Jordan), Trent Bohnsack (Jordan)

Front row L-R: Chris Baso, Joey Heller, Curt Hartfiel, Aaron Olson, Brannon Weigel, Kyle Hover, Dane Secott, Chris Rupert, Jeremy Imker, John Hellkamp

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