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Prep teams head for Target Field for title games

By Star Tribune, 06/17/12, 6:57PM CDT


A little early? Eventual winning pitcher Mitch Hendricks, center, was smothered by his teammates after the Lumberjacks thought they won Friday. But Bemidji hadn’t won — not after Eden Prairie was granted a reversal of the final strikeout.

The 2011-12 high school sports season draws to a close Monday with the baseball championship games, all of which will take place at Target Field. Here's a glance at the matchups:

CLASS 3A, 6 P.M.

BEMIDJI (25-2) VS. EASTVIEW (22-4)

• Bemidji: Bemidji broke a record this season with its 20 state tournament appearance. The outstate school, however, has not played in a championship game since 1986. Coach Mike Fogelson said the team's emotional 8-6, eight-inning semifinal victory over Eden Prairie could be the motivation the team needs to complete the run. If that's not enough, 10-0 sophomore pitcher Ryan Hirt likely will be on the mound.

• Eastview: The Lightning is playing in its first state tournament, and if the metro's representative is victorious, the school will win its second state title this spring. Prior to the boys' lacrosse team's championship earlier this month, the Apple Valley-based school never had won a state title in any boys' varsity sport. The Lightning came from behind to Grand Rapids 5-3 in its semifinal game, proving it can handle the pressures of postseason baseball.

 The call: Bemidji 6-2.


CLASS 2A, 3 P.M.


• Holy Family: If their first two games of the tournament are an accurate indicator, the Fire present the ultimate paradox: What makes their chances suspect is the same thing that provides optimism. Holy Family committed six errors, threw two wild pitches and had two passed balls, yet never appeared threatened or rattled. Fire senior Kasey Ralston, an Indiana recruit, is the best pitcher left in the tournament, regardless of class. He pitched a three-hitter in the quarterfinals and homered in the semifinals.

• St. Cloud Cathedral: Postseason success and Cathedral go hand-in-hand. Bob Karn, who has led the Crusaders to seven state championships, including 2011, in his 42 years as the head coach, always has his team ready to play. Karn is no gung-ho taskmaster; he's a teacher, philosopher and Tai Chi practitioner whose zen-like wisdom carries over to his team. The Crusaders have come from behind to fend off postseason elimination three times in their past five games.

• The call: St. Cloud Cathedral 3-2




• Lac qui Parle Valley: A 3-5 start to season quickly erased the high expectations placed on the Eagles prior to the season. Junior catcher Preston Kraft was quite frank about his squad's chances of advancing to Target Field at that point in the season: "Not happening." Coach Bart Hill's pitching staff has only allowed more than one run in one of its past eight games. Senior Brandon Bornhorst (9-2), who has half of the Eagles' victories, is expected to get the starting nod on the mound in the final.

• St. Agnes: The Aggies moved into the driver's seat when they knocked off unbeaten New York Mills and its ace, Adam Snelgrove. Senior Charlie Turch is quick to acknowledge how playing a Class 2A schedule benefits the Tri-Metro Conference school. "It might result in more losses during the season, but it prepares you for these kind of games," he said. Sophomore pitcher Jack Fossand, who beat Snelgrove 1-0, should be on the hill. St. Agnes coach Mike Streitz is an excellent tactician, and could make a big difference in the title game.

• The call: St. Agnes 3-1


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