Photo by SportsEngine
We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.
Two of the state's best are squaring off under the lights at the home of the Golden Gophers.
Siebert Field in Minneapolis will host No. 1-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall out of Class 4A against No. 7-3A St. Thomas Academy in an intriguing non-conference matchup. Rankings are based on the May 7 coaches polls.
The Raiders have been one of the top stories this season under new head coach Buzz Hannahan. The team has already eclipsed last season's win total of 11 and through May 14 are 13-2 overall and 12-2 in a deep Suburban East Conference featuring defending 4A champion Stillwater.
There's talent aplenty with this Raiders squad with University of Minnesota commits senior catcher Jack Taxdahl and junior outfielder Jake Quinn getting to play at their future home field in Monday's game.
Cretin-Derham Hall began the season 8-0, and aside from a 17-4 loss vs. Park of Cottage Grove to end the undefeated campaign, the Raiders have been in every game this season. It's a promising season and one that could end the school's state tournament drought. Cretin-Derham Hall hasn't made the final dance since 2007.
The opposition on Monday, however, also has Division I talent.
St. Thomas Academy (12-3) has two of the top arms in the state with junior Jonathan Dobis committed to Northwestern and senior Mike Miller committed to Duke.
The Cadets bounced back from a 1-2 start to the season with a win over defending 3A champion Benilde-St. Margaret's. That began a nine-game win streak and 11 wins in 12 games through May 14.
The Cadets are seeking their fourth straight state tournament appearance and fifth in the last six.
The last two unbeaten teams in the Lake Superior Conference are set to do battle this Wednesday.
Until last week, No. 8-3A Hermantown (9-1, 6-0) had yet to lose a game, period. A 3-2 loss May 8 at Rock Ridge is the only blemish in a stellar season. The Hawks are averaging 8.3 runs per game and allowing 3.3. Hermantown has plated double digit runs six times.
Leading that offensive charge is senior Dawson Rannow. In eight games logged on Minnesota Baseball Hub, he’s batting .591 in 22 at-bats with seven RBIs that co-leads the team. He’s also tops in extra-base hits with eight, including a home run. Five of his teammates are also hitting .400 or higher.
Brayden Lundeen has led the Hawks team from the mound. The junior pitcher owns a 2-1 record with a 1.45 ERA, seven strikeouts and five walks.
No. 7-2A Duluth Marshall (9-2, 2-0), meanwhile, is a threat to make it back to the state tournament with a lot of talent back from a 2022 team that finished 19-6 and a state consolation championship.
The Hilltoppers won last year’s matchup with the Hawks 7-3 in comeback fashion in Duluth. Max Berrisford earned the win pitching five innings. Aaden Westerbur had two hits and two RBIs as a middle-schooler in the matchup and Carter Boos tallied two hits and an RBI.
The team’s leader is another youngster, sophomore pitcher Owen Marsolek. In 23 innings over four games, he’s yet to allow a run with 51 strikeouts and eight walks. Marsolek can swing the aluminum, too.
Among those with more than 14 at-bats, Marsolek is leading this year’s squad with a .433 batting average. He’s also a co-leader in RBIs (10), triples (one) and solo leader in doubles (six).
This late season non-conference matinee matchup could be a dandy.
Defending Class 2A state champion Fairmont is testing itself with a tough road game when it takes on Belle Plaine this weekend.
The Cardinals (13-1) got off to a 10-0 start to the season and enter this week with the top spot in the May 7 Class 2A coaches poll.
The only hiccup was a one-run loss to a tough 3A squad, Marshall. The loss could be the difference in Fairmont potentially sharing a Big South divisional title with Marshall.
Through May 15, the Cardinals are led at the plate by Lincoln Becker, who’s tops in batting average (.396) and RBIs (18). Landen Meyerdirk is hot on his heels at .386 and leads with 12 steals and five doubles. The senior’s committed to University of Minnesota Morris, where he could be useful in the outfield or on the mound. This season Meyerdirk has yet to allow an earned run in 11 ⅔ innings of work.
Fairmont’s got a deep pitching staff with junior Nate Soelter (4-0), senior Brendan Schmidtke (4-0) and junior Benjamin Moeller (3-0) all unbeaten from the hill.
No. 8-2A Belle Plaine (10-3) poses one of Fairmont’s toughest tests. After losing its first two games of the year, the Tigers have rattled off wins in 10 of its past 11 games.
Belle Plaine has the pitching depth to match Fairmont. The Tigers have shut out six opponents through May 15 and are allowing 2.9 runs per game thanks to the law firm of Ted Hohn and Hunter Hoen dicing up opponents.
Ted Hohn leads the team with a 0.66 ERA over 21 ⅓ innings. He’s 3-0 with 42 strikeouts and 10 walks. Senior Hoen deserves better than a 3-2 record with a .068 ERA in a team-high 30 ⅔ innings. He also leads with 53 strikeouts to go against 11 walks, and was a Minnesota Baseball Hub Top Performer candidate for the week of April 17-22.
Seven Bell Plaine players are hitting over .300 with 20-plus at-bats. Sophomore Nolan Swenson has the team’s only two home runs and is second on the Tigers with 13 RBIs, trailing junior Jack Hohn by one.
While residing in different sections, a win here for either team could go a long way in helping them earn the top seed in their respective brackets.
Mahtomedi vs. Centennial, noon, Saturday, May 20. No. 2-3A Mahtomedi challenges itself with a tough non-conference matchup at No. 10-4A Centennial. Both teams have a shot at the top seed in their respective sections with less than two weeks left in the regular season.
Minnetonka vs. Edina, 6:30 p.m., Friday, May 19. The Lake Conference has been wide open this season. No. 4-4A Minnetonka will look to gain ground on No. 9-4A and conference leading Edina.
The MN Baseball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.