The 2019 baseball season begins on March 28 with three matchups slated for that day, but many teams aren’t scheduled to take the field until the week of April 1. More than 40 games are on the calendar for April 2, with several metro teams kicking off their season two days later.
Mahtomedi, which has made the last five Class 3A state tournaments and won 5-1 over Rocori in last year’s championship game, struggled out of the gate with an 0-2 start last season. One of those losses came against South St. Paul, which split an early season doubleheader with the Zephyrs. The teams meet again on April 8, with Mahtomedi aiming to start its title defense with a Metro East Conference victory.
A lot of eyes will be on another east metro matchup as Stillwater, which won the Suburban East Conference a year ago, faces league foe Roseville at CHS Field in St. Paul on April 9 in an early test. The Raiders finished third in conference play a year ago, and lost both of their regular-season matchups to the Ponies by just one run — 8-7 on May 2 and 10-9 on May 17. Coming into this spring, Stillwater sits at No. 22 in USA Today’s Super 25 high school baseball preseason rankings, so this contest should be an early marker to see where this year’s Ponies measure compared to last year’s squad.
The Ponies won 20 consecutive games a year ago, culminating in a Class 4A championship at Target Field in June. With a couple of ace pitchers in Drew Gilbert and Will Frisch returning for their senior campaign, Stillwater seems poised to defend their title. Gilbert, a lefty committed to Oregon State, went 6-1 with a 0.75 earned run average in 2018 with 83 strikeouts in 46 2/3 innings. Frisch, a righty who is also a Beavers commit, recorded 31 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings with a 2.71 ERA last year.
Also on April 9, Class 1A runner-up Sleepy Eye will try to ease the sting of being throttled 8-0 by Heritage Christian Academy in last year’s state finale, as it takes on Wabasso, which also made the Class 1A tournament a season ago. The Tomahawk Conference rivals split last year’s regular-season series.
In the west metro, Minnetonka, which lost to Stillwater in the Class 4A final, faces Edina for the first time this season on May 3. When the Lake Conference rivals last met, the Skippers defeated the Hornets 8-2 in the Section 2 championship after Edina won both regular-season meetings.
A day later, defending Class 2A champion Maple Lake takes on Duluth Marshall at Wade Stadium in Duluth in a rematch of last season’s Class 2A championship game, which the Irish won 8-4.
The state tournament will be held on June 13, 14, 15 and 20, with each of the state finals scheduled for Target Field in Minneapolis. Quarterfinal and semifinal games will be played at Mini Met in Jordan for Class 1A, Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud for Class 2A, the University of Minnesota’s Siebert Field in Minneapolis for Class 3A, and Class 4A matchups will be held at the St. Paul Saints’ CHS Field, which is shared with Hamline University's baseball team.
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