Second best

The+Panthers+line+up+for+the+National+Anthem+in+the+iconic+Target+Field.

Nick Lieser

The Panthers line up for the National Anthem in the iconic Target Field.

Matt Hoffmann, Beat Reporter (Recently Retired)

One perfect moment. For one brief second Monday evening the stars aligned and the Chanhassen Storm took the 2-0 lead in the class AAA state championship game. They never looked back.

The western suburb only mustered 4 hits against North pitcher Brett Herber who threw six innings but one two out hit in the third inning hit by Kansas commit Ty Denzer decided the contest.

“I would take that” Lakeville North head coach Tony Market said after the game referencing the 4 hits and two runs if he was offered it. “They (Chanhassen) are a great team, to hold them to four hits and two runs I would’ve liked our chances to at least tie.”

Herber, who is headed to Winona State to play baseball had the game’s only strikeout, extremely rare considering his opposition, Jack Schnettler went the distance—only allowing four hits but no runs and zero strikeouts.

Denzer said coming to the plate with two on, two out in the third he was “just looking for something to hit” and that “I knew those runs were going to be big.”

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The future KU player also added that being an instigator “is what I’ve done all year—trying to fire the team up and make plays like that.”

It was lack of clutch hitting that plagued the Panthers Monday night who left seven on base and had the lead runner thrown out at third twice.

“We didn’t come up with the big hit that got us here” Market said, musing that it was simply “baseball.”

State championship games rarely pass without an instance of controversy, this one included. In the top of the sixth inning Storm center fielder Cole Kirchoff singled up the middle to start the inning. Moments later he was involved in the breakup of a potential Panther double play— opting to slide into North short stop Angelo Altavilla. After the dust settled, Brett Herber had pushed Kirkchoff following the play and coach Market was on the field, looking for an explanation.

“We wanted clarification on everything, the umpires provided that. They (Kirkchoff) made the attempt to slide and contact was made after.” The umpires ruled just the one force out at second, opting to leave Herber’s skirmish alone, along with the contact on Altavilla.

All night Herber “competed and battled” according to Market and “he had a pretty good pulse on how to pitch them.”

The senior finished the game with four hits, two runs allowed, three walks and one strikeout in 23 batters faced, just two over the minimum.

Brett Herber fires a strike in the top of the first inning of The MSHSL State Championship Baseball game.
Nick Lieser
Brett Herber fires a strike in the top of the first inning of The MSHSL State Championship Baseball game.

His counterpart Jack Schnettler went seven innings allowing four hits, no runs and 3 walks in 29 batters faced. 

Unlike the semifinal the game was played in brisk one hour and 42 minutes under partly cloudy skies with the winds out of the North/Northwest at eleven miles an hour at a perfect temperature of 76 degrees.

Chanhassen earned their first ever state championship in the team’s first appearance defeating STMA & Robinsdale Armstrong along the way.

Lakeville North finished second after wins over Anoka and Northfield, falling just short in the championship. The Panthers will graduate six players, including All-State players Angelo Altavilla and Brett Herber.

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It’s 297 days until the 2016 baseball season begins but for now coach Market, the Panthers and Storm just want to enjoy this moment.

“It was a well played game overall and a super fun game to be apart of.”