With the section baseball playoffs heating up this week, here’s a look at five teams from the west metro poised to make noise in the postseason:
Wayzata: Pitching makes Wayzata a postseason threat. Led by big lefthander Tom Skoro, the Trojans have weathered the tough Lake Conference schedule, running away with the league championship with a 7-1 record. The 6-3, 185-pound Skoro, who has committed to Kansas State, has a 5-1 record with a minuscule 0.76 ERA. He averages almost a strikeout-and-a-half per inning (65 strikeouts, 46 IP). Skoro leads a staff that has a 1.21 ERA, five shutouts and not allowed more than five runs in any game this season. That pitching provided a cushion for the Trojans offense, which has been efficient. Jake Marsh and Griffin Schneider lead the team in hitting, both batter better than .333 — impressive in the pitching-rich Lake. Wayzata earned the No. 1 seed in Section 6.
Minnetonka: With perhaps the metro’s most talented lineup, the Skippers have been everyone’s favorite for much of the season. Their starting rotation rivals Wayzata’s, with three starters having made Division I commitments: senior Jake Raether is headed to Central Michigan, junior Jimmy Ramsey committed to Oregon and junior Sam Thoreson is going to Minnesota. The Skippers’ biggest issue this season has been streaky hitting. The Skippers found themselves in a late-season slump, losing four of five immediately after a 10-game winning streak.
Maple Grove: Until a 4-1 loss to Anoka on May 20, the Crimson was one of the metro’s hottest teams, having reeled off six consecutive victories by a combined score of 54-8. You can’t stress enough the importance of pitching and Maple Grove has been doing it well. Senior Brett Schulze has five victories and a save after losing his first start of the season. Schulze has been on his game in big moments. In a recent 2-1 victory over Wayzata, he held the Trojans to only four hits with six strikeouts and no walks. Junior Charlie Horton has been almost as good, compiling a 3-2 record with a 1.56 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched. As a staff, Maple Grove had allowed only 40 runs through its first 19 games and held opponents to a cumulative .203 batting average.
Delano: Pay no mind that the Tigers had their nine-game winning streak ended in the final game of the regular season, falling to Hutchinson 4-2. Delano has the type of balance needed for postseason success, and baseball is a way of life in this outer-ring community. The pitching is in good hands, led by juniors Austin Schneider and Jordan Schramel. The offense is deep, with no real holes to exploit. Nine players who get regular at-bats are hitting .300 or better.
Minnehaha Academy: The Redhawks came within a game of winning the Class 2A championship a year ago, falling to St. Cloud Cathedral in the final, and have used that momentum this season. They’ve spent a good portion of the season ranked No. 1 in Class 2A and have perhaps the best pitching depth in 2A in seniors Jesse Retzlaff (Section 4 player of the year) and Alex Fedje-Johnson, and junior Alex Evenson. The Redhawks have hitting depth throughout the lineup, led by Fedje-Johnson, who set a school record for runs this season (34) and power-hitting junior Johnny Goth. The Redhawks, 18-2 during the regular season, avenged that loss to St. Cloud Cathedral with a 7-1 midseason victory. They had a 16-game winning streak stopped by Minneapolis Washburn in the next-to-last game of the regular season.