Blaine is on the verge of its second consecutive Northwest Suburban Conference championship, but it must handle its business over a busy three-day stretch to take home the title.
The Bengals (12-3, 8-2) are scheduled to host league challenger Robbinsdale Armstrong and nonconference foe Rogers on May 21, then visit Anoka in a conference contest a day later — all before traveling to Champlin Park on Wednesday, when they look to overcome their checkered history against the Rebels.
Blaine's pitching staff has been nearly perfect all season. It has allowed the fewest runs per game (2.0) in Class 4A, according to Minnesota-Scores.net, and has five pitchers with at least 15 innings pitched who boast ERAs less than 1.90. Junior Jason Kaul has the Bengals’ best mark, allowing just one earned run in 15 1/3 innings pitched.
Champlin Park and Robbinsdale Armstong sit a half-game behind Blaine in the standings entering the week, and the Rebels (9-8, 8-3) have history on their side in the matchup with the Bengals. They’ve defeated Blaine in seven of their past nine meetings dating back to 2012, including a victory in the Class 4A state tournament quarterfinals two years ago.
The Rebels pitching staff has been especially good lately. They've allowed three or fewer runs in six of their last seven games, and Vincent Lamberty nearly pitched a perfect game against Duluth Marshall on May 19, keeping the Hilltoppers in check through eight innings before giving up one hit and one unearned run in the ninth to take the 1-0 loss.