Tri-City Red advances to legion state tournament

The summer baseball season for the Tri-City Red American Legion baseball team is set to last for at least another weekend. Tri-City is headed to the state tournament, which starts Friday for all 16 of the participating teams.

Tri-City Red is in the state tournament for the second time in three years and 13th time overall.

Red opens the tournament on Friday at 1 p.m. against the Sub-State 1 champion Rochester Redhawks, whose roster is made up of players who attend Rochester Mayo High School. The Redhawks (20-12) clinched the state berth with a perfect 4-0 record in the sub-state playoffs.

Rochester was the No. 3 seed in Sub-State 1 and beat Faribault 10-0, the Rochester Patriots 12-7 and Austin 10-1 to reach the finals. Austin was also the Redhawks’ opponent in the final and Rochester secured the title with a 5-2 victory.

The Tri-City/Redhawks winner advances to the second round and a 7 p.m. game on Friday at Red Haddox against either Excelsior or Burnsville. The loser plays an elimination game at Red Haddox at 4 p.m.

Excelsior won the Sub-State 4 title to reach the state tournament while Burnsville is the champion of Sub-State 5. Both teams went 5-0 in their respective sub-state tournaments.

A Tri-City Red/Excelsior match-up in the second round would be a rematch of the Gopher Classic championship game from a couple of weeks ago. Excelsior won that game 11-3 in five innings.

Tri-City Red is one of two teams from the Fourth District in this year’s state tournament. Also making state is Hamline Purple, which won Sub-State 7 as the No. 5 seed. Purple’s first-day pod includes Sub-State 2 champion New Ulm Gold, Sub-State 3 winner Chaska and Sub-State 15 champion Hutchinson and all games will be played at Alimagnet Park in Burnsville.

This is the first time the Fourth District has sent two teams to the state tournament since 2002 when both Tri-City Red and North St. Paul made it. Back then, there were two “roving” at-large berths that moved from district to district each year and in 2002 the Fourth District had one of them. North St. Paul won the district tournament that year and Tri-City Red was the runner-up and both teams moved on to the state tournament.

Sub-State 8 recap

Tri-City Red went a perfect 4-0 at three different fields last week to clinch the Sub-State 8 title.

Red was the No. 1 seed in the tournament and closed out three of the victories in under nine innings thanks to the 10-run rule. The first of those was a 12-2 win over Tri-City Blue in the first round on July 23 at White Bear Lake Area High School.

Tri-City Red used a seven-run third inning to take control. Red pounded out seven hits in the inning and Ben Mezzenga had two of them, including a double.

Charlie Callahan started on the mound for Red and gave up two runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out five.

Round two was the only playoff game in which Tri-City Red didn’t pull away and end it early. Fifth-seeded Lino Lakes, which 10-runned fourth-seeded Stillwater in the first round, stayed with Tri-City but couldn’t prevent Red from winning 4-2. The game was played at the White Bear Township fields.

Bo Lovdahl got the win for Tri-City Red against Lino Lakes.

Next up for Tri-City Red was a déjà vu contest against Forest Lake on Friday at Midway Stadium. Both teams were seeded the same and met in the game of the tournament as they did in 2013. Forest Lake won that contest last year, but Tri-City Red turned the tables this time around.

Tri-City rolled to an 11-1 victory to secure a spot in the tournament final.

Forest Lake rebounded from the loss to beat Maplewood Green 8-7 in the losers’-bracket final on Saturday night at Midway Stadium and reach the sub-state final.

Tri-City Red and Forest Lake also played in last year’s final, which went two games after Red won game one 5-2. Forest Lake then won game two 3-2 to clinch the sub-state title.

Again, things were different this time around. Tri-City Red wrapped up the championship in one game with a 17-7, eight-inning victory.

Other Tri-City teams eliminated quickly

The Sub-State 8 tournament didn’t go well for the other two Tri-City teams. Tri-City Maroon and Tri-City Blue combined to go 0-4 and were the first two teams eliminated from the tournament.

Maroon entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed after finishing third in the Fourth District regular-season standings, but the playoffs were a different story. Tri-City lost a top pitcher to injury earlier in the month and couldn’t find a way to keep its playoff opponents off the basepaths.

Tri-City Maroon opened the sub-state tournament on July 23 against seventh-seeded White Bear Lake. Maroon won both of the regular-season match-ups, but White Bear returned the favor in the post-season with a 6-4 win.

The loss dropped Tri-City Maroon into the losers’ bracket and an elimination game against sixth-seeded Maplewood Green (Hill-Murray), which lost to third-seeded Forest Lake 6-1 in the first round. Tri-City doubled its offensive output from the first game but couldn’t keep Maplewood’s offense in check in a 15-8 loss.

Maroon finished the season with a record of 14-12.

Tri-City Blue entered the sub-state playoffs as the eighth seed and faced top-seeded Tri-City Red in the first round. Red used a seven-run third inning to run away with a 12-2, seven-inning victory.

Blue got its only runs in the fifth inning on a bases-loaded walk and a bases-loaded single. Aidan Kelly, Ryan Bernardy and Noah Bluth all singled to load the bases before Bennett Wiggins drew a walk to score Kelly. Bernardy scored the second run on a single.

The loss dropped Tri-City Blue into the losers’ bracket and an elimination game against fourth-seeded Stillwater, which lost 12-2 in seven innings to Lino Lakes in the first round. Stillwater avoided elimination by beating Tri-City Blue 15-8.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com.


Sub-State 8 American Legion  baseball playoffs

First round
Game 1 - Forest Lake 6, Maplewood Green 1
Game 2 — White Bear Lake 6, Tri-City Maroon 4
Game 3 — Lino Lakes 12, Stillwater 2, 7 innings
Game 4 — Tri-City Red 12, Tri-City Blue 2, 7 innings

Second round
Game 5 — Maplewood Green 15, Tri-City Maroon 8 (Tri-City Maroon eliminated)
Game 6 — Stillwater 15, Tri-City Blue 8 (Tri-City Blue eliminated)
Game 7 — Forest Lake 7, White Bear Lake 4
Game 8 — Tri-City Red 4, Lino Lakes 2

Third round
Game 9 — Stillwater 9, White Bear Lake 1 (White Bear Lake eliminated)
Game 10 — Maplewood Green 12, Lino Lakes 7 (Lino Lakes eliminated)
Game 11 — Tri-City Red 11, Forest Lake 1, 8 innings

Fourth round
Game 12 — Maplewood Green 6, Stillwater 5 (Stillwater eliminated)

Fifth round
Game 13 — Forest Lake 8, Maplewood Green 7 (Maplewood Green eliminated)

Championship round
Game 14 — Tri-City Red 17, Forest Lake 7, 8 innings (Tri-City Red wins sub-state championship and advances to the state tournament)

2014 Minnesota American Legion baseball tournament

August 1-4 at Eagan, Bloomington, Burnsville
Participating teams

Sub-State 1 — Rochester Redhawks
Sub-State 2 — New Ulm Gold
Sub-State 3 — Chaska
Sub-State 4 - Excelsior
Sub-State 5 - Burnsville
Sub-State 6 — Lakeville North
Sub-State 7 — Hamline Purple
Sub-State 8 — Tri-City Red
Sub-State 9 - Champlin
Sub-State 10 — Nisswa or Hermantown
Sub-State 11 - Delano
Sub-State 12 — St. Cloud Chutes
Sub-State 13 — St. Francis
Sub-State 14 — Alexandria
Sub-State 15 - Hutchinson
Host - Eagan
 

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