GAMES TO WATCH: Memorial Day matchups and more this week

By Nick Gerhardt

The season will kick into high gear this week with a full slate of games across the state on Memorial Day that feature a number of traditional rivalry meetings. Later in the week the Omann Insurance Invite for Sartell and St. Stephen kicks off, along with the Stearns County Classic in St. Martin and Lake Henry, which is always a good time to check in on the latest facial hair trends in Stearns County.

We threw in a little curveball this year with pre-set matchups. Tons of talent headed to our parks come June. We are pumped to have you all!@laker_blue @CS_Rockies @LitchBlues @csspringers @StarbuckStars @SpicerTwins @FoleyJacks #ChristmasInJune— St. Martin Baseball (@smartinblue) February 14, 2023

Here’s a look at some of the top games to watch across the state this week.

Monday, May 29

Watertown at Waconia, 6 p.m.

Watertown had its 2022 state tournament run conclude in the semifinals a year after reaching the championship game. Waconia has seemed poised to make a deep tournament run each year and also had its 2022 ended at the hands of state runner-up Buckman.

The Crow River Valley League North Division title will likely come down to these two teams. The Red Devils are already off to a 5-0 start through league play and have a 9-1 record, the lone loss coming in a 9-4 game to Clearwater April 30. 

The Lakers have gone 3-1 in league play with their lone loss coming to Mayer in a 10-7 game.

Chaska at Jordan, 6 p.m.

Jordan has retooled this season by adding the likes of former Chanhassen players in Brandon Arnold and Tommy Thompson in the hopes of returning to its 2019 glory of a state title after bowing out in the quarterfinals in 2022 to eventual champion Nisswa. 

The Brewers are off to a 5-0 start with wins over Bird Island and a pair of Class B teams. Jordan lost last year’s meeting with Chaska 2-0 in Chaska. 

The Cubs have started the season 1-1 after a 3-1 season-opening loss to Delano and a 3-2 win over Plato.

Lyon’s Pub at Minnetonka, 5 p.m.

Two stalwarts of the class formerly known as A, you can expect a good game when the two clubs tangle. The Warriors are off to a 5-2 start following a 2-1 loss to Forest Lake and an 8-2 loss to Champlin Park. 

The Millers are off to an up-and-down start, having lost their season opener 3-2 to Watertown and dropping a 2-1 game to the Shakopee Indians. Minnetonka bounced back with an 11-4 win over the Twin City Saints, a 7-0 win over the Minneapolis Angels in a combined no-hitter, a 15-5 win over Coon Rapids and a 2-1 win over Champlin Park.

Wednesday, May 31

Bird Island at Hutchinson, 7:30 p.m.

Bird Island started the season strong with a 10-0, seven-inning victory over New Ulm and added a 3-1 win over Sacred Heart following a 6-4 loss to Jordan. The Bullfrogs have put together a tough schedule outside of league play and will play in the Charlie Larca Memorial Invitational in Jordan in July.

Hutchinson has started the season 6-0 and scored an average of more than 13 runs a game during that span. That win streak includes an 18-5 win over New Ulm and a 15-0 drubbing of Brownton.

Friday, June 2

Regal at Elrosa, 7:30 p.m.

Two perennial state tournament participants will meet in a County Line-Stearns County clash. Regal hasn’t made the state tournament since 2020 and Elrosa appeared in last year’s tournament for the first time since 2018.

The Eagles are off to a 2-1 start following an 8-0 win over Starbuck and a 15-4 win over Paynesville. But Regal suffered a 14-0 loss to Atwater in its last game. 

Elrosa is off to a 2-2 start following a 3-2 win over Richmond and an 8-0 win over Roscoe. The Saints dropped a 4-2 game to Meire Grove and a 13-2 game to rival Spring Hill in the battle for The Keg.

Rochester Royals at Elko, 7:30 p.m.

Class B’s top-ranked team Rochester has gotten off to a strong 5-1 start with its lone loss coming to Hastings in a 5-2 game. The Royals have two shutout victories and haven’t allowed more than five runs in a game thus far.

Elko, likewise, started out of the chute hot with five straight wins before losing 13-3 to Lyon’s Pub on May 25. The Express have taken care of DRS opponents and picked up a nice 5-1 win over Baseball 365, last year’s Class A runner-up.

Saturday, June 3

Nisswa at Buckman, 1:30 p.m.

A league matchup that happens to be a rematch of last year’s state championship game. The Lightning travel to Buckman for the season’s first meeting. The Billygoats have gone 3-1 to start the season with the lone loss coming to the Pierz Lakers in a 9-2 game. 

Nisswa has won its first five games of the season, including a 6-0 victory over Sobieski and a 10-0 win over the Pierz Lakers.

Both teams have added a couple of new pieces, which should bolster their lineups.

Sunday, June 4

Stark at New Ulm, 5 p.m.

Both Stark and New Ulm out of the Tomahawk East League reached the final 16 of last year’s state tournament and there’s no reason to believe they can’t replicate that success again this season. 

The Longhorns turned some heads after winning three games at the state tournament while New Ulm entered the tournament as the Region 2 champion and fell to Nisswa in the round of 16 as the Lightning rallied for the win.

Miesville at Dundas, 2 p.m.

You can’t go wrong in checking out one of the best rivalries in amateur baseball when Miesville and Dundas matchup. The rivalry still runs hot despite an influx of new players for both teams in recent years. 

Miesville has bolstered its pitching staff with the return of ace Jake Dickmeyer and adding former St. Cloud State pitcher Trevor Koenig who will throw to catcher Nate Hammes, who is also returning after a year away. 

The Dukes have relied on pitching and defense for years while finding a clutch hit. Dundas has added a bevy younger players to the lineup as they’ll mix in with the veterans. 

Red Wing at Cannon Falls, 2 p.m.

Two venerable powers in the Classic Cannon Valley League will meet up for the first time in the season. The Aces have knocked on the door in the state tournament the past few years, missing out on a trip to the quarterfinals in a 1-0, 13-inning loss to Bird Island last season.

Cannon Falls returned to the state tournament last year for the third straight year.

Red Wing has started 3-4 with losses to Dundas, Northfield, Rochester.

The Bears have started slow with a 1-4 record but two of those losses were by two runs or less.

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