MIKE’S MUSINGS: Taking inventory heading into a busy town ball weekend | Sports
It’s put up or shut up time for Minnesota town baseball.
Dozens of teams around the state have already hung up the cleats as region tournaments wrap up over the next two weeks.
Those still remaining may be down to their final game, while others have stamped their ticket to the 2018 state tournament. New Prague’s Memorial Park, and Shakopee’s Joe Schleper Stadium are the main hosts for the Class B and Class C state tournaments and Jordan’s Mini Met is a tertiary site.
All four town ball teams in the Faribault Daily News coverage area are still alive in regional play with one team already assured to be among the 48 at the Class C tournament.
Here’s where each team stands heading into a busy weekend.
Region 3C — Faribault Lakers
The Faribault Lakers are sitting pretty as one of two unbeaten teams in the eight-team, double-elimination 3C playoffs.
Faribault polished off Union Hill 10-5 Sunday and St. Patrick 6-2 Tuesday, the latter clinching one of four bids out of Region 3C to state.
There’s still a lot to play for, though, as the region winner earns a first-round bye in the 48-team Class C tournament. The remaining state qualifiers earn better placement in the bracket depending on region finish.
Next on the schedule for the No. 6 seed Lakers is a 2 p.m. home date with top seed and Dakota-Rice-Scott League champion New Market.
Faribault is the host due to a region rule that stipulates in this round that the team that has hosted the fewest amount of region games up to this point is the host. Faribault has been on the road twice while New Market has twice been the home team.
The Lakers are 17-13 overall and finished 12-11 in the DRS regular season. New Market’s 23-3 and was 21-2 in the DRS.
Faribault looks to get over the hump against New Market now that it’s playing its best ball of the season with a full lineup. New Market No. 3 in the Minnesota Baseball Association top-10 poll.
The Muskies beat the Lakers 8-1 July 10 in Faribault and 3-1 July 15 in New Market. Faribault was without several starters in the first meeting and received a solid outing (7⅓ innings, five hits, three runs allowed) from Egan Bonde, who could throw again Sunday, in game two.
Former Laker Nate Rost pitched eight shutout innings and allowed three hits in game two for the Muskies.
New Market made it to this round by beating Shakopee 8-2 and New Prague 3-2.
The Faribault/New Market winner advances to the championship, ensures a top-two finish and will have two cracks on home field to beat the losers’ bracket champion.
The championship is Friday night with a second game, if necessary, 1 p.m. Sunday.
The Faribault/New Market loser plays Wednesday night against whoever emerges between No. 2 St. Patrick, No. 5 Montgomery, No. 4 New Prague and No. 3 Union Hill. St. Patrick travels to Montgomery and New Prague to Union Hill in a pair of elimination games that concluded after press time.
Region 6C — Morristown Morries and Waterville Indians
A Highway 60 matchup is in play in Region 6C between the Morristown and Waterville. Ideally, it would come next Sunday in the Region championship, though it could come sooner depending if and how the two teams weave through the elimination bracket.
The Region combines teams from the 13/60 and River Valley leagues. Three teams out of 16 in the tournament advance to state with the winner earning a first round bye in the 48-team Class C tournament.
The Indians are among the favorites to make a deep run. They get underway 1 p.m. Saturday at William J Grose Park against No. 8 RVL Arlington. The A’s are 4-18 on the year and have two wins the last two months. These two teams have not met this season.
Waterville is guaranteed another game in the double-elimination bracket. It will also be at home as the high seed hosts RVL No. 4 St. Peter or 13/60 No. 5 Eagle Lake.
The Indians haven’t seen St. Peter and swept Eagle Lake by scores of 12-1 and 6-0.
The biggest challenger in the region is the RVL No. 1 Jordan Brewers. They’re 26-5 against a tough schedule, beat Waterville 4-1 and ride a nine-game win streak.
Waterville also played a tough schedule and finished the regular season at 19-8.
Morristown may face the Brewers in round two.
First things first, the 13/60 No. 4 Morries (11-9) take on No. 5 RVL Fairfax (8-11) 4 p.m. Saturday in Jordan. The eight first-round games are divided into four pods, meaning the top two seeds from each league are hosts in round one.
Fairfax beat Morristown 2-1 June 6 in Fairfax. Likely starter for Saturday, Matt Saemrow, threw eight innings and held the Cards to two runs on 10 hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. Saemrow also had three of seven team hits in the game.
Veteran Mark Yrjo got the win for Fairfax, which scored both runs in the first inning.
Fairfax comes in losers of three of the last four and allowed 47 runs in the span.
In round two, Morristown draws Jordan or No. 8 13/60 Lake Crystal Sunday at the high seed. Morristown swept Lake Crystal 10-7 and 8-1 and has yet to see Jordan.
A win and then a loss to Jordan means Morristown would have to win four in a row to go to state. A first-round loss requires five straight wins.
Region 5C — Wanamingo Jacks
The Wanamingo Jacks are one win away from state. Or two, depending on how things go this weekend.
Wanamingo finished atop the Twin Rivers League this season to earn a bye in Region 5C which combines with Classic Cannon Valley League teams.
The Jacks take on the CCVL’s No. 2 seed Red Wing Aces 4 p.m. Sunday in Owatonna in the semifinals which doubles as a state qualifying game. Winner gets either CCVL No. 3 Cannon Falls or No. 1 CCVL Lake City for the championship. A championship win equals a first round bye in the 48-team Class C tournament.
The loser, however, must win an elimination game 1 p.m. Aug. 11 back in Owatonna against whoever emerges from TRL No. 6 Rochester, CCVL No. 4 Randolph, No. No. 2 TRL Stewartville-Racine and TRL No. 8 Waseca.
Against these four squads, Wanamingo beat Rochester by scores of 5-4 and 4-2, beat Randolph 7-5, split with S-R (3-1 W, 4-3 L) and swept Waseca 7-0 and 11-0 in a doubleheader.
That winner advances to a state qualifier 7 p.m. that day against one of TRL No. 3 Owatonna, TRL No. 7 Pine Island, TRL No. 5 Winona or TRL No. 4 Dodge County.
The Jacks hope they don’t have to see any of these teams if they can beat an up-and-down Red Wing team that beat Wanamingo 6-3 back on May 22.
In that game, the Aces touched up Brady Anfinson for 12 hits, but Anfinson has otherwise been a reliable arm for Wanamingo with a 3.44 ERA.
With a week off since the Jacks’ playoff opening 10-1 win against the Winona Chiefs, that game’s winning pitcher, Sam Roosen, is fresh to throw again. He’s been stellar this season, collecting a 7-2 record with a 2.93 ERA and 67 strikeouts against 23 walks.
Red Wing started the season 5-0 and 7-1 before dropping six of its next seven. The Aces are 13-15 and the Jacks are 16-10.
Wanamingo lost 4-3 at Cannon Falls on June 14 and has not seen Lake City this season.
Reach Sports Editor Mike Randleman at 507-333-3119 or on Twitter @fdnmike.