The Resorters Baseball League saw teams from Miltona and Clarissa drop out over the last two years and has lost another after the Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs decided they had to fold after being in the league since 2001.
The Bluedogs were a veteran-laden group last season with 13 guys on the roster. Two of those were high school players, but the rest were comprised of players who were getting to the age where it was tougher to commit to playing every weekend.
“Of our 11 veterans, we had three that were not going to play this year and many with potential conflicts throughout the schedule,” Bluedogs player Mike Bruns said on Tuesday. “In the end, we needed five to seven new players to fill out our roster. With no access to B-E kids due to them all playing for Millerville, we really had nowhere to turn to recruit more players. Other things contributed, but it boils down to a numbers thing.”
Bruns, Lee Nelson, Travis Santjer and Josh Meissner all played 10 or more seasons for the Bluedogs. Harold Meissner founded and managed the team all 14 years, while Brent Meissner, Nate Meissner and Chris Shea played for the team during its entire existence.
“It was a really good experience for us,” Shea said. “Toward the end, we never had to do much talking on the field because we knew what everyone was going to be doing, which makes it more fun to play because we could just play and not worry about if everyone was going to be in the right position. The core group of players that we had all played college baseball at some level, so the knowledge that we had on the field was awesome.”
Bruns doesn’t see a way in which the Bluedogs could start up again in the near future with any of the current players leading the revival.
“I would say it is permanent,” Bruns said. “There are only two or three guys who are going to continue playing, and of our 11 non-high schoolers from last year, nine are over the age of 30, so it is not ideal to continue with another team.”
The Resorters West and East Divisions won’t change much from 2014. The West had six teams last summer in Urbank-Parkers Prairie, Brandon-Evansville, Osakis, Ashby, Millerville and Kensington. The loss of the Bluedogs gives them five teams like the East, which consists of Carlos, Alexandria, Long Prairie, Sauk Centre and Swanville.
Brandon-Evansville featured a group of players who saw plenty of success during their time together.
The Bluedogs won the West Division multiple times and only missed the Region 16C tournament one year from 2001-2014. That came in 2003 and was due to what Bruns said was a player contract issue where the team ended up not being postseason eligible.
“We qualified for the state tournament three times in 2002, 2009 and 2011,” Bruns said. “We lost the state qualifying game a couple times, and over the past five or six years, we had consistently won games against quality Region 16 opponents.”
A trip to the state tournament was always the ultimate goal for the Bluedogs. They came up two games short last summer after falling to Urbank-Parkers Prairie in a 7-6, 10-inning game during the region tournament.
Bruns said it became evident after last season that their goal of getting to state was less attainable. With no young players to inject into the roster, the writing was on the wall at that point that the team might not be able to compete in 2015.
“It is disappointing, but we are satisfied with our results,” Bruns said. “We had a great time for 14 years.”