Section 3 baseball playoffs to begin Friday
Burnsville, Eastview, Lakeville North, Eagan draw top four seeds
With single-elimination games required in the first two stages of the Section 3AAA baseball playoffs, the right to sit out a first-round game means a lot.
Therefore, it probably put a smile on Eagan coach Rob Walsh’s face to see his team seeded fourth when the section pairings were announced Tuesday night. That gave the Wildcats, 10-10 overall but winners of their last four games, a first-round bye.
“We think we have a pretty good case (for a first-round bye),” Walsh said Monday before the pairings were announced. “We were 7-3 in our last 10 games and played some pretty competitive non-conference games.”
Burnsville (18-2), Eastview (14-5) and Lakeville North (14-5) received the top three seeds. They, along with Eagan, will play at home in second-round games at 4:30 p.m. Monday (yes, these games will be on Memorial Day).
In first-round action Friday, 10th-seeded Apple Valley (6-14) goes to seventh-seeded Lakeville South (7-13) at 4:15 p.m., with the winner playing at Eastview on Monday. Eleventh-seeded Rosemount (5-15) plays at No. 6 seed St. Thomas Academy (11-9) at 4:15 Friday, with the winner going to Lakeville North on Monday.
Also on Monday, Burnsville plays the winner of a first-round game between Henry Sibley and Simley, both 8-12. Eagan awaits the winner of the Prior Lake (9-11) vs. Park of Cottage Grove (4-15) first-round game.
The four teams remaining after Monday’s games go to Alimagnet Park in Burnsville for a double-elimination tournament beginning June 1. The section championship game is scheduled June 5, with a second game, if needed, to be held the next day.
South Suburban Conference champion Burnsville, which has been to the state Class AAA title game the last two years and won it in 2011, is the Section 3 favorite, although Walsh said, “I think there are six teams that have a legitimate shot at it.”
Eagan closed its regular season with victories over Bloomington Kennedy, Bloomington Jefferson, Lakeville North and Apple Valley.
“We played with consistency, which is what we’ve been looking for all year,” Walsh said. “We’ve hit .325 on the year, which is better than I expected with the new bats. We’ve been making plays defensively, and our pitching has been very good lately.”
Infielders Eric Peterson, Cole Peterson and Collin Olstad were some of the Wildcats’ hottest hitters in the second half of the regular season, Walsh said.