Top Teams Triumph in Tourney

The three teams with the best records entering the 2010 Minnesota State High School League Baseball Tournament continued their winning ways throughout the event and were crowned champions at Target Field, site of title games for all three classes.

The winners were Eden Prairie (Class AAA), Rocori (Class AA), and Eden Valley-Watkins (Class A). The three champions posted a combined season total of 77 wins against only four losses.

Before the championship series Saturday at Target Field, press box observers doubted that any of the high schoolers would be able to homer in a park that in its short existence has become a pitcher’s venue. A pair of Burnsville batters proved them wrong in the sixth inning Class AAA championship game. First, Brandon Peterson connected for a two-run shot that traveled approximately 350 feet into the left field stands. Then, Tom Sherman hit the ball 380 feet into the centerfield bullpen. Those were the first (and only) home runs hit in Target Field during the event. Unfortunately, for Burnsville the home runs were not enough to overtake Eden Prairie. The final score was Eden Prairie 7, Burnsville 5.

The Eagles of Eden Prairie were making their second consecutive and sixth overall appearance in the State High School Baseball Tournament. They finished fifth last year and won the state title in 2004. During the regular season, the Eagles scored 190 runs while holding their opponents to 68. The team’s only loss was to Eagan, 4-2. Eden Prairie defeated Lake Conference rival Burnsville twice prior to the tournament by the scores of 4-1 and 9-8.

Rocori entered the Class AA championship game with 23 wins and three losses. During the regular season, the Spartans had exactly twice as many runs scored as their opponents, 182-91. Rocori was making its sixth state tournament appearance, winning the 1992 Class A championship. In this year’s Class AA championship game, senior Blaine Athmann pitched a five-hit shutout and enticed 15 Delano batters into groundball outs en route to a 3-0 win over the Tigers. Rocori took advantage of three costly Delano errors to win the game.

Eden Valley-Watkins was the only undefeated team to enter the 24-team, three-day tournament, and the Eagles remained so after the final pitch of the Class A event. The Eagles were making their third state tourney appearance and the team’s first since 2001. Eden Valley-Watkins overcame a 4-1 deficit to Sebeka in Saturday’s championship game by the score of 7 to 4. Matt Geislinger relieved his cousin, Tyler Geislinger, after two innings and shut down the Trojans. Tyler Geislinger, however, singled to left-center to score the go-head run in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Apparently, in the Minnesota high school baseball world, it doesn’t hurt to have the words Eden and Eagles attached to your team, as the Eden Prairie Eagles and the Eden Valley-Watkins Eagles proved. Combined, the two teams had a won-loss record of 53-1.

The total paid attendance for the Target Field finale was 7,092, down from the 15,000 forecasted by high school league officials who were hoping that baseball fans unable to attend Minnesota Twins games would take the opportunity to experience the wonders of the new park at a reasonable admission ($10) . Prep championship series recap:

Class AAA

Forest Lake 2, Stillwater 0

Eden Prairie 11, Rochester Mayo 4

Coon Rapids 7, Armstrong 4

Burnsville 6, Brainerd 5

Eden Prairie 12, Forest Lake 0

Burnsville 5, Coon Rapids 3

Eden Prairie 7, Burnsville 5

Class AA

Mankato East 5, Cloquet 3

Delano 3, St. Anthony Village 2

Rocori 5, Fairmont 3

La Crescent 9, Fergus Falls 8 (8 innings)

Delano 6, Mankato East 3

Rocori 11, La Cresent 1

Rocori 3, Delano 0

Class A

Deer River 2, Fosston 1

Sebeka 12, Southland 3

Mayer Lutheran 2, Adrian 1

Eden Valley-Watkins 6, Minnesota Valley Lutheran 0

Sebeka 5, Deer River 4

Eden Valley-Watkins 14, Mayer Lutheran 3

Eden Valley-Watkins 7, Sebeka 4

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