Panthers season ends in disqualification

Princeton – The championship season and flawless playoff run were wiped away, Tuesday night, even though no one beat the Princeton Panthers.
The Minnesota Baseball Association determined, for the second time this season, the Panthers had an ineligible player on the roster. Thus, removing them from the playoffs and eliminating a season, in which the Panthers won the Eastern Minny West Division regular season and playoff championship, and finished 14-3 overall.
“We all just put so much effort in and to have it end like that is really disappointing,” clean-up hitter Grant Brockhouse said.
Brockhouse was the ineligible player. Originally from Des Moines, Iowa, he was the only player not from Zimmerman or Princeton on the Panther roster, according to the Eastern Minny League playoff program. This drew some speculation from fans and, likely, other teams after Princeton successfully clinched its spot in the Class C Region 1 Playoffs with back-to-back wins.
“Someone questioned about Brockhouse’s residency,” Panther manager Kyle Norman said. “They wanted proof that he established himself in Princeton before March 15.”
According to Article 9 of the Minnesota Baseball Association Handbook, “A player must physically live in a residence full-time to qualify for establishing residency. “Residence” shall mean the place where a new player actually establishes residency on or before March 15 of the current baseball season and continues his habitat there until he participates in four league games.” It later goes on to say that the residency must also be within a 30-mile radius of the home ballpark.
On March 15, Brockhouse was attending Gustavus Adolphus College, about 110 miles from Solheim Field.
According to Norman, the league bypassed this rule and just asked Grant for proof that he was living in Princeton during the season.
In mid-May, after the schoolyear, Brockhouse moved in with his aunt and uncle, Ryan and Annemarie Brockhouse, but didn’t have documents or bills paid to prove his local residence.
The Panthers were already on probation, too, because of a prior rules violation, this season. John Patnode played for the Rockford River Bandits 10 years ago and, after living in Michigan, returned to play for Princeton without receiving a mandatory release from his prior squad.
Princeton forfeited their season then, but had the verdict overturned on appeal during a July 15 MBA Board Meeting, leaving with probation. This time, there will be no appeal.
“I wish they would’ve told us before the playoffs because now it feels like they are just teasing us. I feel like we had a really good chance to make state,” Norman said, after the Panthers Eastern Minny West Tournament title that will consequently be passed to Rum River. “But we will come out next year firing on all systems.”
Brockhouse plans to return to a stronger team next season after establishing official residency.
“I won’t make the same mistake,” he said. “I’ve got several text messages from the guys and they’ve been really supportive, saying they want me back. “We’ll have a bigger team and we’ll be stronger next year.”
Meanwhile the 2017 Class C Region 1 Tournament continues. Sartell and St. Joseph have qualified for state, representing the Sauk Valley League, while Clear Lake, Foley, Rum River and Mora grapple for the final bid on Aug. 11 and Aug. 12 at Brennan Field in Hinckley.