Minot Metros set for first Class A State Tournament showing since 2017
The final score resembled a modest football outcome. The reality was more outlandish, as the Minot Metros knocked off the Dickinson Volunteers 20-10 last Thursday to earn their spot in the Class A State Tournament.
While Minot lost a nail-biting 4-3 contest to the Bismarck Capitals a few hours later, the Metros did what they had to do to keep their season alive at the Class A West Region Tournament in Jamestown.
As such, the West Region No. 4-seeded Minot Metros are playing at the state tournament for the first time since 2017 this week in Valley City.
“The message is to go out and have fun,” Metros head coach Dalton Cooper said. “We haven’t been to the state tournament in two years, and now everybody gets to go to one. I want them to play hard, and I think good things will happen.”
Minot will play East Region No. 1-seeded West Fargo Vets in the opening round at 10 a.m. this morning.
While being the underdogs on paper takes some of the pressure off, the Metros still know that they have to perform to their potential.
“Seeding doesn’t really matter,” Cooper said. “You have to play your game. I know that if we come out and play hard, I think we can beat any team in the state. Being the No. 4 seed, some teams might brush us off and not throw their best guy against us. But, all you can do is play your game at this point in the season.”
The Metros will be without their biggest offensive weapon at the state tournament, as Eli Nissen was called up to play with the Minot Vistas. Nissen will be the Vistas’ first-round starting pitcher against the Bismarck Governors at the Class AA State Tournament in Bismarck this evening.
Nissen led the Metros during the regular season in batting average (.432), on-base percentage (.536) and only stuck out three times in 138 plate appearances.
Looking to pick up the pieces and keep the offense humming along is Jonas Bubach (.377 AVG), Hunter Ruzicka (.344), Tyler Johnson (.333), Layton Ludwig (.321) and Landyn Almy (.305).
“I think we are an all-around pretty good team,” Almy said. “We are defensively strong, hitting strong. I think if we just put those things together at state, then we will do good.”
Tyler Budeau is also a threat on the bases when he can get his legs going. He leads the team with six triples on the season.
“I struggled a little bit hitting the first part of the season,” Budeau said. “But I bounced back and started hitting well again… We have played well all season and have played every team in the West pretty even throughout the year. So, I think we should be pretty good.”
On the mound, the Metros have leaned heavily on Tyler Buchanan.
“He has been our guy, and he is going to pitch Game 1 for us,” Cooper said about Buchanan. “He is good at changing speeds. He has faced the (Bismarck) Reps, the (Bismarck) Caps and Jamestown. He is a guy we depend on when we need to win a game.”
Other notable arms include Johnson and Calvin Baker.
“It’s going to take a team effort,” Baker said. “We are going to need to work together. Our pitchers have to throw strikes, and we have to get that big hit to score our guys. We can’t leave runners on.”
The Metros need to be locked in from the get-go as they are tasked with playing in the first game of the state tournament this morning. The first pitch against the West Fargo Vets is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Valley City’s Charlie Brown Field.
The double-elimination tournament is set to run from August 4-8.
Alex Eisen covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @AEisen13.