MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The best baseball talent the state has to offer will be on display this week as the state tournament gets underway at three venues across Minnesota.

There are 24 teams left to battle for the right to play for a spot in the state championship, where six teams from three classes will have the chance to play at Target Field in Minneapolis. For a variety of reasons this year’s field, especially in Class AAA, appears to be wide open. There doesn’t appear to be a dominant team in the bracket, the 2012 state champion did not return and a condensed spring because of terrible weather.

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Games get underway across the board on Thursday as Midway Stadium hosts the Class AAA bracket, Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud hosts the Class AA tournament and the Mini-Met in Jordan hosts the Class A field.

Class AAA: Shore Leads Talented Coon Rapids Team

The Class AAA bracket for this year’s state baseball tournament should be as competitive as ever. That’s especially true with a weather-shortened season and the fact that last year’s state champion, Eastview, didn’t make it out of the Section 3AAA bracket. It also features one of the most talented pitchers in the state in Logan Shore of Coon Rapids, who was drafted over the weekend by the Minnesota Twins. He’s headed to Florida in the fall on a baseball scholarship.

In the top half of Thursday’s quarterfinals, Coon Rapids, the top seed, faces Wayzata. No. 5-seeded Forest Lake takes on No. 4-seeded Mounds View. In the bottom half, Rocori will face No. 3-seeded Lakeville North and Rochester Mayo gets No. 2-seeded Minnetonka.

I fully expect Coon Rapids and Minnetonka to get to Monday’s title game at Target Field, although the road will be anything but easy. There’s plenty of talented teams and players among the eight teams left.

AAA Quarterfinals (Midway Stadium)
Wayzata (15-6) vs. Coon Rapids (17-3)
Forest Lake (18-5) vs. Mounds View (17-6)
Rocori (16-8) vs. Lakeville North (19-4)
Rochester Mayo (14-11) vs. Minnetonka (21-6)

Class AA: St. Cloud Cathedral’s Tourney To Lose

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There’s a bit of a dynasty going on the baseball field about an hour northwest of the Twin Cities. St. Cloud Cathedral has won seven state baseball titles and gone to the state tournament 16 times. Their head coach, Bob Karn, has been at it for 43 years.

At 23-2, the Crusaders have to be the favorite this year despite losing to Holy Family Catholic in the state championship last season. The field also features two teams that are in it for the first time in Watertown-Mayer and Minnehaha Academy, who actually face each other in the quarterfinals.

In the top half of the bracket, Luverne faces St. Cloud Cathedral and Kasson-Mantorville gets Hermantown. In the bottom half, Perham gets Delano and Watertown-Mayer faces Minnehaha Academy. If the seeds hold, Delano would face St. Cloud Cathedral on Monday for the championship in what would be a fantastic match-up.

AA Quarterfinals (Dick Putz Field – St. Cloud)
Luverne (20-4) vs. St. Cloud Cathedral (23-2)
Kasson-Mantorville (23-6) vs. Hermantown (20-2)
Watertown-Mayer (16-8) vs. Minnehaha Academy (17-5)
Perham (16-5) vs. Delano (17-2)

Class A: St. Agnes Back To Defend Championship

The Mini-Met in Jordan, one of the classic ballparks in Minnesota, is the host of the Class A bracket and like the rest it should be a very competitive bracket. Although its record isn’t the most impressive at 13-6, St. Agnes is back to defend its state title after finishing 23-6 last year. It’ll be a tough road as they face Windom in the quarterfinals, with the winner to face the BOLD/Wabasha-Kellogg winner. On the bottom half of the bracket, Blackduck faces Osakis in a battle where both teams have only two losses. Floodwood gets New York Mills in another match-up of two teams with just two losses.

If the seeds hold, New York Mills would face Wabasha-Kellogg for the state championship on Monday at Target Field. So get out and enjoy some baseball wherever you are in Minnesota this weekend

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A Quarterfinals (Mini Met – Jordan)
BOLD (15-6) vs. Wabasha-Kellogg (17-1)
Windom (13-8) vs. St. Agnes (13-6)
Blackduck (18-2) vs. Osakis (18-2)
Floodwood (17-2) vs. New York Mills (19-2)