Forest Lake’s Ian Walker took a swing against Woodbury in the Rangers’ 9-1 semifinal victory. Next up is Eden Prairie for the state title.
Class 4A 7 p.m.
Eden Prairie (17-9) vs. Forest Lake (20-6)
Why Eden Prairie will win: The Eagles are peaking. They have pounded out 22 hits and scored 20 runs in the tournament and have scored in seven of the 12 innings, two or more runs in six of those innings. “We’ve been really consistent lately withe the bats,” second baseman Connor Kehl said. “Seeing pitches, getting deep into counts, driving the ball, hitting it hard.” The pitching has been just as good, giving up just one run and nine hits over the first two games.”
Why Forest Lake will win: There’s a relentless approach to the way the Rangers play that wears down opponents. They have trailed in both state tournament games, but their never-say-die approach paid off in the quarterfinals, leading to a winning two-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. No team in the tournament utilizes the bunt, both as a sacrifice and a squeeze, better than Forest Lake. “That’s kind of our go-to play,” Rangers coach Tal Gravelle said. “Let’s put a little pressure on the defense.”
Key to watch: Early offense. Forest Lake hasn’t scored in the first two innings of either game. If Eden Prairie gets ahead early, it could be tough for the Rangers to rally.
Did you know? Eden Prairie will be making its sixth championship game appearance, winning titles in 2004 and 2010. Forest Lake has made one previous trip, falling to Coon Rapids in 1993.