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Class 3A baseball: Rain pushes back tournament start one day

By JASON GONZALEZ, Star Tribune, 06/15/12, 12:03AM CDT


The MSHSL, not wanting to get in some games and not others, delayed the start of Class 3A play until today.

While puddles collected on the field at Midway Stadium on Thursday, there was a lot of time to think.

Minnesota State High School League associate director Kevin Merkle thought only about scheduling solutions to a washed-out opening day of the Class 3A baseball tournament in St. Paul. Coaches re-evaluated their pitching matchups. And players continued to fantasize about a chance to play in the title game Monday at Target Field.

One coach, though, was reminded of the last time rain postponed his title run.

"I guess you'd have to go back to '98 when we played Cretin-Derham in the state championship game," Eden Prairie coach Mike Halloran said. "That game got going late and ended late. It's a tough thing."

The Eagles lost that game 2-1. Now, 14 years later in Halloran's final season as coach, he will once again try and find a way to help his team overcome the challenge of a rain delay.

It won't be easy for the eight teams involved. The makeup games are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Friday at Midway and Dunning Field, about three miles away. Winners advance to play at 3 p.m. or 5:30 p.m. at Midway.

Halloran remembers the old state tournament format that included the first two rounds on the same day, but noted how it takes a toll on player performance.

"In that second game, the players are pretty tired," he said. "It's a grind."

Merkle was hopeful at least two of the four first-round games could have been played Thursday after morning showers delayed the 10 a.m. quarterfinal between Hopkins and Eden Prairie. Then came an afternoon shower that included hail and lightning.

Trying to wait it out, Eden Prairie's team took cover at nearby Rosedale mall. Hopkins returned home. After four hours of watching water drown the field, officials decided to cancel the games.

"We're not going to wait around [Thursday] and play at 8 p.m.," Merkle said.

Coaches agreed the most fair scenario was to have all teams play on the same day. This eliminated any potential edge a late Thursday winner would have by splitting its games over two days.

The timing of third-place and consolation championship games is less certain. They are tentatively scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but with outstate teams in the tournament field, travel conflicts could cancel the games.

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