With the baseball state tournament played over three days this year, winning a championship will require some extra strategizing about pitching.
Previously, the first two rounds were set for Thursday and Friday, with the finals held the following Monday.
That allowed teams enough time to bring back their ace pitcher, who would start in the quarterfinals, for the championship. With championship games scheduled for Saturday, “it’s definitely going to be different this year, especially in the smaller classes,” Minnehaha Academy coach Scott Glenn said.
The two-time defending Class 2A state champion Redhawks have thrown their ace in the quarterfinals and championship in each of the previous two years. If they reach the finals Saturday, the Redhawks in all likelihood will use three different starters.
“I’ve thought about different ways to be creative,” Glenn said. “It’s going to be challenging.”
The scenario recalls nearly 70 years ago, when Boston Post editor Gerald V. Hern wrote the poem “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain,” about Boston Braves pitchers Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain.
First we’ll use Spahn, then we’ll use Sain,
Then an off day, followed by rain.
Back will come Spahn, followed by Sain,
And followed, we hope, by two days of rain.
A day of rain would push the championship games back to Monday, allowing coaches to come back with the staff ace, who pitched on Thursday.
“When we’ve thrown our No. 1 pitcher Thursday and Monday, they didn’t have the same stuff on Monday as they did Thursday,” Parkers Prairie coach Derek Denny said.
The Panthers have played in the past two Class 1A finals, winning the crown last year after finishing runner-up in 2016.
“Some kids just don’t do as well on short rest,” he said.
Denny is looking forward to seeing how this season plays out.
“It plays in the favor of teams that have pitching depth,” Denny said. “You can’t rely on just one horse.”
His squad is one of those with depth. The past two years the Panthers have claimed the Section 6 championship by winning their final five games in four days.
“It’s going show who has the deepest pitching staff, and the best team overall,” Denny said.