Mudcats open region vs. Hibbing
The Bemidji Mudcats open Region 6A playoff action today at 5:30 p.m., hosting the Hibbing Miners at the BSU diamond.
The Duluth Xpress and Blaine Fusion play at 8 p.m. to complete the opening day.
Tomorrow, tonight's two losers clash at 11 a.m. in a loser-out contest. The two winners will follow at 1:30 p.m.
The loser of that game will then battle the winner of the 11 a.m. contest for the second berth in the state tournament.
It will also move into Sunday's final at 11 a.m., needing two wins over the winner of Game 4 to take the section title and the region's top berth in the state meet.
The second game, if needed, will follow immediately.
The Mudcats finished second to Blaine last year when the final day of the playoffs was rained out.
Bemidji drew the top seed for this year's section meet on a coin flip after none of the five Arrowhead League teams was able to complete its regular season.
The meet was restructured when Nashwauk withdrew, unable to field a team.
Hibbing then beat Grand Rapids 2-1 and 1-0 Monday night to gain the fourth spot.
Blaine was seeded second by agreement. The Fusion (27-14) only faced Bemidji among the Arrowhead teams, winning 5-1 on its home diamond.
Bemidji and Hibbing met twice at Bemidji, the Mudcats winning 4-1 behind Doug Peterson and 2-1 with Keenan Humphrey on the mound.
The two games at Hibbing were rained out and not made up.
Norland (2-2), who has seen infrequent action this summer due to coaching conflicts, and Fenner (4-2) are likely to get the first two mound starts with Peterson (2-5), Matt Stasch (2-3) and Humphrey (3-2) among others set for duty.
The Mudcats are 20-16 on the season.
Manager Neil Huewe does not expect to have Dan Bauer or Dan Nolan back for the playoffs, That pair has been missing since mid-season.
Brad Johnson will also be gone, coaching the Bemidji VFW at the state meet. That removes three of the better bats from the lineup.
Jeff Schaper, Tony Klaers, Brian Murphy, Andrew Hengel, Brent Magnuson, Kyle Figgins and Peterson will be key figures in the attack along with Huewe. Billy Statton and Jon Clark will likely split catching duties.