Class B prognosticators tackle top storylines

By Nick Gerhardt

news@mnbaseball.org

Class B hasn’t been without its surprises this year as several mainstays are watching this year’s tournament but new entries like Hamel, New Market and Burnsville enter the fray.

The Class B tournament always produces some close games and this year shouldn’t be any different.

Once again we thank our experts for providing their insight throughout the year and we’ll turn to them one last time to get their thoughts on this year’s field.

Matt Marek — Champlin Park LoGators

The Favorite: Can it be anybody other than Chanhassen? Three straight titles and just eight losses over the last three seasons. The undisputed favorite until proven otherwise. Look out for Miesville if they can get past what should be a crazy environment against Chaska in their home park.

The Dark Horse: Not to beat a dead horse, but the buzz around Miesville hasn’t quite been the same as it has in past years, which to me, makes them the dark horse. If you’re looking at the main storylines, it’s probably the teams that aren’t here (Blaine, Dundas, Elko, Cold Spring, Northfield), followed by Chanhassen’s quest for a fourth straight title, followed by “Can the Moorhead Brewers finally do it?” The Hens probably get lost in all that, but look out … looks like Ronnie Sweeney and Max Moris are back to bolster a really good team.

The Upset: A lot of the first-round matchups are so even that a big upset might be hard to find. Do the Mudcats have the pitching to top Chanhassen? I don’t know that they do. I’m looking at East Grand Forks over Anoka, as they have their full lineup and reins off the UM-Crookston pitchers as a candidate. Coming back to Miesville, Chaska over Miesville is one to keep an eye on in what should be an amazing environment. 

Aldon Severson — Northfield Knights

The Favorite: The 2021 favorite is undisputedly the Chanhassen Red Birds. The Red Birds remain the consensus No. 1 team in Class B and three-time defending state champions. 

The Dark Horse: Despite making this same pick last year, I think the Champlin LoGators are poised for a deep run in 2021. Circle Aug. 29 on your calendar when Chanhassen and Champlin could very well face off in a championship caliber semifinal game. 

The Upset: After losing their best-of-three playoff series to Rochester, Hampton bested the Dundas Dukes and Elko Express to punch its ticket to state. Could the Cardinals take the next step and knock off the Champlin LoGators in round one?

Week 1 winners: Miesville, Anoka, Moorhead, New Market, Hamel, Champlin, Chanhassen, Rochester. 

Week 2 winners: Miesville, Moorhead, Champlin, Chanhassen.

Championship: Chanhassen over Miesville. 

Jon Sands — Victoria Vics

The Favorite: Chanhassen. How can you not pick the Birds? They are loaded with pitching this season and look to make another run at a title.

The Dark Horse: Bit of a homer bias here but Victoria. The Vics have the hitting to contend with any team in the state this year.

The Upset: Let’s go with the hometown Chaska Cubs over Miesville. Only picking Chaska because the game is at Chaska. If this was a neutral field game I would have to go with Miesville but the game is in Chaska, so why not the Cubs?

Kelly McMonagle — Moorhead Brewers

The Favorite: Have to go with the three-time defending champion Red Birds until someone knocks them off their perch. Chanhassen has only lost twice this year but hasn’t really been blowing teams out of the water as of late. They have the pitching to give them a chance to win every time out but will the offense be there, if needed?

The Dark Horse: Can’t really call the top seed out of Section 4B, Champlin Park, a dark horse so I’m going with the Rochester Royals this year. They have a quality No. 1 starter to lean on and if both the Royals and Red Birds win opening weekend, they will meet up in the second elimination round with one team going home.

Upset Alert: I’m expecting a big crowd for the Class B opener on Friday night and the Chaska faithful will come out in droves to cheer on the hometown Cubs. Maybe that will be enough to get them past the Mudhens, but they will bring fans of their own as well. Should be an electric atmosphere to kick off the Class B tournament.

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