Mudcats open region playoffs at Grand Rapids
The Bemidji Mudcats head to Grand Rapids tonight to begin the Region 6B playoffs.
They open with Nashwauk at Legion Field.
It will be the only game to be played at Grand Rapids with the remainder of the contests set for Hibbing.
Grand Rapids and Blaine will play the second opener tonight at Hibbing.
The first round will be completed tomorrow at Hibbing when Duluth and Hibbing meet at 10:30.
At 1:30. the Bemidji-Nashwauk loser faces the Grand Rapids-Blaine loser in an elimination game. At 4:30 the Bemidji-Nashwauk winner goes against the Duluth-Hibbing loser with Grand Rapids or Blaine facing Duluth or Hibbing in the winners bracket at 7:30.
Those two winners would clash Sunday at 1:00 for a berth in the state. The loser of that game would then have to meet the team coming from the losers bracket late Sunday for the second spot.
But the rest of the tourney could vary with the outcome of Saturday's contests depending on whether four or five teams are still alive. Three and possibly four games are set for Sunday.
As always, the top two teams will advance.
Bemidji is a the defending champion beating Duluth in the final last year. Both teams dropped their state openers and were eliminated under the new state format which now starts double elimination play in the second round.
The Mudcats won the Arrowhead League title with a 13-3 record .
They went 3-1 with Nashwauk but two wins came by one run and a third by two.
The Colts, composed largely of former Marble Mallards players, can be very hard to beat despite their last place finish at 4-12. Many of their setbacks came by narrow margins.
Tyler Norland (6-0) will get the mound start with Paul Fenner (6-1) set for the second game and Dan Bauer (1-0) for the third.
Doug Peterson (1-1) and Sam Anderson (2-1) are available for relief.
John Grindeland and Phil Ronnebaum are on hand for the playoffs after appearing sparingly this year..
Dan Nolan or Tony Klaers will handle the receiving with Jeff Schaper at first and Neil Huewe at third flanking Bauer at short and Grindeland or Ronnebaum in the infield.,
Andrew Hengel, Peterson and Fenner will open tonight in the outfield with Ryan Johnson and Anderson also seeing outfield duty during the meet.
Fenner could DH or play first with Matt Stasch adding a left arm to the bullpen and Greg Skerik providing further depth.
The Cats reached 24-7-1 with their Wednesday night win over the Blue Ox, using five hurlers for one or two frames of work and winning with three run rallies in the seventh and ninth. Anderson, the fourth hurler, got his second win.