It didn’t take long for Ty Denzer to learn about what is fast becoming one of the metro’s most intense rivalries.
Denzer moved with his family from Hudson, Wis., to Chanhassen when he was in eighth grade. By the time he reached high school the next year, he knew all about the Chaska/Chanhassen feud.
“I really noticed it my freshman year,” the rangy senior shortstop said. “It’s huge in other sports. Everybody goes to the Chaska/Chan football game and it’s the same in every other sport.”
The apex of the rivalry this year has been on the baseball diamond. Both teams finished the regular season with a 17-3 record. They split a pair of regular-season meetings, with Chanhassen winning the most recent meeting 4-1 on May 13. The result? The flip-flopped spots in the Class 3A state poll, with Chanhassen sliding up to No. 2 and Chaska falling to No. 3.
Staff writer Jim Paulsen talked with Denzer about the Carver County conflict and his immediate baseball future.
Q Both Chaska and Chanhassen are among the state’s best baseball teams. That must make the rivalry even bigger.
A Our first game of the year, we absolutely packed the stands. There must have been 800 fans there. You normally don’t get that many for a Minnesota high school game.
Q Chanhassen’s field is gorgeous and the Chaska Athletic Park is quaint and classic. Which do you prefer?
A Obviously, I like ours. I think it plays better. But both are great fields. It’s awesome to be able to play on fields like that.
Q Do you ever feel spoiled when you play at another school’s field and it’s not up to par with yours?
A A lot of times, you don’t feel completely comfortable because you never know what kind of bounce you’ll get. At Chan, our infield plays so well that it gives us confidence. I appreciate our field, but I don’t take it for granted.
Q Does the rivalry ever spill over off the playing field?
A No, not really. Actually, I’m really good friends with a lot of the guys at Chaska. I hang out with them sometimes. It’s not like we hate each other, but we always want to beat them.
Q Give a scouting report on yourself.
A I think I have natural athletic ability and a pretty good arm. I think I’ve got good speed, good range. I’ve been told I have good versatility.
Q College ball?
A I’m committed to Kansas.
A It’s a beautiful campus. I remember right when I stepped on campus, I could see myself playing there. I was surprised at how nice the facilities were. I get the chance to play Big 12 baseball, which is one of the best in the state. And, of course, the weather.
Q So, you’re not happy with Minnesota? Can’t imagine why.
A I love Minnesota, but I hate the winter. One thing I like about Kansas is you get the opportunity to practice outdoors pretty much all year long. That stuck out to me.
Q Over the last few weeks, you’ve had a couple of chances to be the hero at the plate. Talk about them.
A Against St. Louis Park we were down 3-2 going into the seventh inning. We got a runner on. I saw the second pitch and took it over the right-field fence. We won the game 4-3. The other was against Maple Grove. It was senior night. We were down 8-7 in the bottom of the seventh. We got one run and then I hit a walk-off single. We won 9-8.
Q How did that feel, coming through in the clutch like that?
A It’s an awesome feeling. The game-winning home run was great because I’ve never done that before, but I think the walk-off single in our last game of the season, on senior night, is my great baseball memory so far.