When you’re Mahtomedi, there’s an urgency to perform at a high level early in the season. Opponents tend to show up ready to play their best in an effort to knock off the Zephyrs, who capped five consecutive appearances in the state tournament by bringing home the Class 3A championship trophy a year ago.
Mahtomedi (1-1, 1-1) tore down South St. Paul in an 11-1 season-opening victory on April 8 but stumbled a day later, losing to Tartan 4-3. Early blemishes are nothing new for the Zephyrs, who are more than capable of going on a streak. Last year, they dropped their first two games but went on to win 13 of 15 to close out the regular season, giving them plenty of momentum to make a postseason run.
Jacob Arlandson drove in four runs against South St. Paul, and pitcher Leo Bustos earned the win, throwing five innings, striking out seven and giving up one earned run. Bustos, who pitched six quality innings in last year’s state tournament, is one of the keys that can unlock another run to state for the Zephyrs.
Hastings, which split its regular-season series with Mahtomedi last year, misfired out of the gate, losing 4-1 to Park of Cottage Grove on April 5, but showed some toughness in a 7-6 victory over Hill-Murray three days later.
The Raiders (1-1, 1-1) got 10 strikeouts from pitcher Tom Ritt against Park of Cottage Grove, but the junior allowed six hits and four runs on his watch. The pitching from Hastings will need to improve to pull off a win against a team the caliber of Mahtomedi.