Class B prognostications: Will Chanhassen match history with a fifth straight title?

By Nick Gerhardt

ScoreMonster Contributor

news@mnbaseball.org

We’ve come to that time of the year again where we anxiously await the sight of the teams taking to the well-manicured fields for the state tournament. In many ways it’s a bittersweet feeling because we know that the state championship also means the end of the season and the encroaching fall and winter. 

Before all that we have the excitement of looking through the bracket, making our picks and seeing what happens on the field. We tapped our experts once more to get their insights on a Class B field that has as much parity as we can remember in recent history. We thank the pollsters for their diligent analysis throughout the year once again. They stir the debate across the state and that’s part of the fun. Let’s see what they think might happen.

Jon Sands — Victoria Vics

The Favorite: Chanhassen — How can the Birds not be the favorite the champs are until they prove they aren’t.

The Dark Horse: Blaine — This was a tough call to put Blaine here because of them missing the last couple of years. I think they could also be a team many people are sleeping on but watch out for the Fusion.

The Upset: Prior Lake — Why not? The red-hot Jays are playing some good baseball and they have as good of a chance to spring the upset as anyone.

The Sleeper: Coon Rapids — They play in a tough section and league so they are battle tested come this late in the season.

The Underdog: Dundas — Even though the Dukes are in the top 10, I think many look at them and see the path to a championship and see Miesville in the way and think the Dukes don’t have a chance.

Kelly McMonagle —  Moorhead Brewers

The Favorite: Until they are knocked off, the four-time defending champ Red Birds have to be at the top of the list of favorites.  Since mid-July they have won nine straight and for the most part steamrolled over Section 3B to take the top seed. They will face the Redbirds from Coon Rapids in the opening round this year and I would expect them to lean on No. 17, the three-time MVP.  After Chanhassen, I think there are eight to 10 other squads waiting in the wings to claim the B trophy should Chanhassen go down.

The Dark Horse: From the definition as it relates to sports competition, the term “dark horse” is given to a team that unexpectedly performs over expectations, so let’s throw out the eight to 10 teams I referred to in the favorites paragraph.  

I’ll exclude Chaska and New Market as they really don’t fit with a No. 3 and No. 4 seed out of their sections. That leaves me with the Dundas Dukes as the pick. The Dukes came into the season somewhat under the radar and were up and down in the beginning of the 2022 campaign. They caught fire at the end of June but have been trading wins and losses as the playoffs started so I don’t really know what to expect. They will have their home crowd behind them and I believe that will provide the fuel for them to be a tough out.

The Upset: The Sobieski Skis took down another Class C title last year and were again moved up to the Class B ranks this season. They will open up with the 31-win Blaine Fusion, which will be a difficult task and will have to summon some more of that championship pedigree if they have hopes to move on to the second weekend. Not an easy task indeed as the Fusion are back in the state tournament after a two-year hiatus and are riding a 15-game win streak.

Aldon Severson — Northfield Knights

The Favorite: C’mon, it’s the Chanhassen Red Birds. Although the regular season raised some questions, the four-time reigning champions get the benefit of the doubt until the fat lady sings them home without another trophy. 

The Dark Horse: Don’t be surprised if the Dundas Dukes make some noise in this tourney. They’re going to be playing in front of a huge home crowd and can swing the bats with the best of ‘em. A second round matchup with Blaine would be fun to watch. 

The Upset: Circle this game on your calendar and get yourself a ticket, this may be the best game of the whole tournament. Saturday, Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. Round 2. Rochester upsets the Chanhassen dynasty in a pitcher’s duel worthy of the state title game (insert foot into mouth from “The Favorite” pick). 

Week 1 Winners: Miesville, Cold Spring, Dundas, Blaine, Moorhead, Champlin Park, Rochester, Chanhassen 

Week 2 Winners: Miesville, Blaine, Moorhead, Rochester 

Championship: Miesville over Rochester 

Matt Marek —  Champlin Park LoGators

The Favorite: For once, it doesn’t seem Chanhassen is the clear-cut favorite. With that being said, they’re still my favorite until proven otherwise. Gone from the prior few years are Ben Livorsi, Michael Jurgella, Logan Spitzcak, with Riley Johnson only playing in six games this year. Maybe, MAYBE their weakness lies past Choles and Nablo in the pen, but how often is that depth really been tested over the last five years? 

The Dark Horse: Could there be less chatter about a 30-5 team? For people that follow Class B baseball, the conversation usually starts with Miesville and Chanhassen, and rightly so. With Blaine getting upset by St. Michael two years in a row, the spotlight hasn’t shone quite as bright as it normally would. Maybe it should, though, as the Fusion have not lost since June 30. A key note, their top five pitchers are all out of college, so no worries about losing any arms to the fall semester. 

The Upset: There are some matchups in the bracket that would be significant upsets, but the most realistic one is probably New Market over Moorhead. Now, as we saw last year, when New Market has their college guys, they’re a different team. If they can put together a mostly full squad, headlined by Wietgrefe on the mound, look out. 

The Sleeper: I don’t know how you differentiate a Dark Horse vs. a Sleeper, but we will go with Moorhead. They’ve been so close for so long, and with them hanging out lower in the polls, I think the sleeper tag fits, especially after putting up 27 runs against Cold Spring on Saturday.

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