Class B prognosticators select their picks for the state tournament

By Nick Gerhardt

ScoreMonster Contributor

It’s state tournament time and the Class B tourney should shape up to be a fantastic finish filled with teams capable of making a run. It’ll come down to who gets a few breaks, timely hitting and solid pitching but it should be a fun three weeks coming up.

We turned to our four experts for their picks once again to take a look at the field and who’s going to make a run this season. It would seem that it is hard to pick against the two-time defending champion Miesville as the favorite though there are several teams lurking that could derail the Mudhens’ path toward a third straight title.

The Class B games will kick off Saturday in Jordan with Forest Lake and Hibbing, making its first state tournament as the Miners and the first for the community since the 1980s.

A quick aside, thanks to the four pollsters for their work throughout the year in picking out the top 10 this season. They’ve done tremendous work once again to provide the most accurate poll they could.

Without further ado, here are the 2018 Class B state tournament prognosticators’ picks.

Kelly McMonagle — Fargo/Moorhead

The Favorite: Miesville

The two-time defending champs have to be the favorite until someone can knock them off.  When tournament times rolls in the Mudhens find another gear with a solid lineup and pitching.  Possible third-round matchup with Cold Spring or Blaine looks to be a battle.

The Dark Horse: Sauk Rapids

Scrappy lineup to go with some top-level arms has the Cyclones in the spot to make some noise after the heartbreaking finish to their first round exit in Green Isle last year to Chanhassen. Not wise to look ahead but a possible rematch in the second round awaits.

Upset Alert: Shakopee

Up and down year for the Indians but anything can happen in a one-game winner-take-all scenario in the opening round. The Springers have had trouble getting out of the first round the last couple years.

Aaron Olson — Shakopee

The Favorite: The Miesville Mudhens have won two in a row and looking for their third straight. They have a lineup to do it again and wouldn’t be surprised if they are there in the end.  Chanhassen is another team that could make a run.

The Darkhorse: The Cold Spring Springers have quietly dominated this year to a 35-3 record and are coming into the tourney as the No. 1 seed in Class B. The veteran team with Zach Femrite leading the way will be tough to beat.

The Sleeper: The Sauk Rapids Cyclones have had a nice year coming out of a strong section.  They also added a dominant pitcher that played for Minnesota State University, Mankato Mavericks in college before being drafted in the MLB draft in Jason Hoppe. He can beat anyone and look for the Cyclones to make a run behind Hoppe.

Eric Kraushar — Chaska

The Favorite: The winner of game 13 (potentially could be Cold Spring vs. Miesville). A tremendous winners’ bracket semifinal featuring a Springers team that has played many of the top 10 teams and beaten the majority. The Mudhens won twice on Labor Day in 2017. They know how to win come tournament time.

The Dark Horse: I think Chanhassen has a favorable draw. They certainly have the team to win it all. It will come down to timely hitting. A bit streaky at times.

The Upset: Watch out for Blaine. Too talented to not make a deep run one of these years. Friday night game in second weekend for Cold Spring. Could that be a game Blaine could steal?

Matt Marek — Champlin

The Favorite: Cold Spring
It’s been a couple of years since Cold Spring made a deep run, so I’m inclined to lean their way. Like Eric said, whoever wins Game 13 on the top half of the bracket will be sitting pretty.

The Dark Horse: I’ll go with Sauk Rapids. We haven’t given them much love in the rankings this year, but with Jason Hoppe on the hill, they can beat anybody, and they probably should’ve knocked off Chanhassen last year. Think St. Michael 2016 with Scott Lieser chucking.

The Upset: If you’re into the Team of Destiny sort of thing, how about Victoria knocking of Miesville? The Vics get back in to the tourney to honor their late manager and make it to Labor Day weekend.

Additional Thoughts: There are certainly some great first round games, with the Cold Spring-Shakopee, Blaine-Dundas, and Chaska-Moorhead games really sticking out. I am a big fan of no Friday games the first weekend, with all the action at Jordan. Most of the familiar faces are back, with Victoria, Coon Rapids and Hibbing replacing Beaudreau’s, Brooklyn Park and Eagan from last year. Should be a fun tourney!

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