Dispatches from Town Ball Tuesday’s Ryno: A wild start to the tourney

Photo via: Justin Braun Photography

First, congratulations to St. Louis Park on their return to the Class A throne. Andre Lanoue, the St. Anthony Hogs, and all their volunteers, who really don’t get enough credit for making Palm Field such a great tournament environment over the last few years. Nobody has ever doubted the quality of baseball being played at Class A, but the move to St. Anthony has created a lot of new energy around the tourney that it really needed. If you didn’t catch any of this year’s excitement, you really missed out. 

It didn’t take long to learn that there would be a new club hoisting the Class B trophy this year, with the Redbirds of Coon Rapids delivering an early knockout to the Red Birds of Chanhassen, ending their bid for a fifth consecutive title.

Though many are presuming this puts Miesville in the driver’s seat to return to their championship glory for the first time since defeating the Chan twice in Hamburg on Labor Day 2017 — Rochester, Champlin Park, and Blaine clearly have other ideas. They’ll all face a treacherous path to the title though, as the Mudhens have stormed into the final four with commanding wins over Prior Lake and Anoka in the first two rounds of the tournament.

Can NSIC Player of the Year and Metro Minny supertalent Sam Riola guide the LoGators to the title? Can power arms Matt Meyer and Matteo Finocchi silence Miesville’s bats and guide the Rochester Royals to the top?

Blaine will get the first crack at the Hens Friday night at Jack Ruhr Field. The Fusion’s year-in, year-out balance of offense and strong pitching has made them a perennial contender in the B field, could 2022 be the year they finally put it all together?

As expected, having Class B powerhouse towns Dundas and Miesville as hosts has definitely created an awesome ballpark atmosphere this tourney. Friday night’s final four doubleheader is a no-brainer for fans wanting to take in a thrilling night of baseball in one of Minnesota’s most iconic ballparks. 

In predictable fashion, the Class C tournament has been predictably unpredictable, but regularly thrilling. Capping off a rain-plagued second weekend with a 21-inning marathon featuring the sons of ex-Major Leaguers Mike Kingery and Corey Kosie, with a game-changing home run by Koskie himself, the first two weekends of the 99th annual tournament have been filled with nail-biting moments.

Even in the absence of power arms like Watkins’ Matt Geislinger, Sartell’s David Deminsky, and Sobieski legend Tyler Jendro, the tourney has seen 17 of 32 games decided by three runs or less, with 24 games within a margin of four, and 13 games won by a single run, including stunners like Nisswa’s come-from-behind victory over Raymond, Waconia’s 9-8 escape from a late Fergus Falls rally, Aaron Johnson’s shutout gem to lead Red Wing over Watkins, Webster hanging on despite Monticello’s four-run ninth inning, and the aforementioned 21-inning epic that was finally decided by a Bird Island single to defeat Loretto 3-2 in the longest game in tournament history.

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