The Waterville Indians are hungry for more in 2019.
Last year, a 24-10 season and their first trip to the Minnesota Baseball Association Class C State Amateur Baseball Tournament ended in disappointment in a sloppy 4-3 loss to the Lastrup Lakers.
Waterville hopes it got its share of disappointment early. Its 30-game win streak was snapped in the Region 6C championship on Sunday as the Jordan Brewers won 4-3 to claim a first-round bye into next weekend’s round of 32.
The Indians (30-2) won’t mind a tune-up game as long as they can get by the St. Benedict Saints (16-15) 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Delano Municipal Baseball Park in Delano.
The Saints are the No. 3 seed out of Region 3, which is annually one of the stronger regions out of 16 in the state. St. Ben’s was the No. 7 seed in the region.
It beat Union Hill in three games in a best-of-three series to make the region tournament. It lost 9-2 to eventual region No. 2 St. Patrick before eliminating 2018 state teams 8-6 over No. 3 New Prague and 2-1 over No. 4 Faribault.
The Saints lost 3-2 to St. Patrick to fall to the third seed.
The Saints mostly pull players from Jordan, but team members also come from Belle Plaine, Northfield and other southern metro cities.
They’re playing their best ball of the season after a 2-7 start to the season where it scored more than two runs in just three of those games.
St. Ben’s has won nine of its last 12 and averages 8.25 runs in that span.
For the season, it averages 6.7 runs and allows 6.1. Waterville scores 8.7 and allows 1.9.
Against teams ranked in the top 10 of the Class C state rankings, St. Ben’s lost twice to No. 1 New Market and four times to No. 7 St. Patrick.
St. Ben’s did not play a game outside of its Dakota-Rice-Scott League schedule.
Waterville’s only game against a top-10 team was against No. 3 Jordan.
Against state tournament teams, Waterville faced Jordan, beat Morristown twice and lost to Class B team Northfield.
For St. Ben’s, New Market and St. Patrick are in state as well as Prior Lake. It split with Prior Lake.
The Saints are led by pitcher Tanner Oakes (No. 21), a former Augsburg University pitcher and current New Prague High School head coach.
The righty Oakes has a .53 ERA over 33⅔ innings with 39 strikeouts and three walks.
In 41 at-bats, Oakes also has a .439 batting average. Among those with 80 or more at-bats, Jeremy Heitkamp (No. 6) leads St. Ben’s with a .326 batting average.
Mitchell Martin (No. 17) hits .309 with a co-team high five home runs and a high of 30 RBIs. Zachary Bakko (No. 38) hits .295 and also has five homers to go with 26 RBIs.
Andrew Huss (No. 3) hits .293 with 29 RBIs.
Waterville may counter with Dalton Grose. He leads the team with a .865 ERA 52 innings with 67 strikeouts.
St. Ben’s added Nathan Sprouls from New Prague, Dan Meger from Union Hill and Joey Grote from Faribault via the region draft.
Sunday’s winner advances in the single-elimination tournament to face the Fairmont Martins, the Region 13 champion, 4:30 p.m. Saturday at Maple Lake.
The Class B and Class C state tournaments run through the next three weekends with games split between host sites Delano, Maple Lake and Dassel.