Panthers, Blaze to face each other at state baseball

Coaches seeding the state Class 4A baseball tournament saw to it Lakeville North and Burnsville wouldn’t have trouble obtaining scouting reports about their first-round opponents.

The Panthers and Blaze, who shared the South Suburban Conference championship, will face each other in the Class 4A quarterfinals at 12:30 p.m. Thursday at CHS Field in St. Paul.

Section 1 champion Lakeville North (19-5), making its fifth consecutive state appearance, is the No. 4 seed, while Section 3 champion and fifth-seeded Burnsville (21-6) is at state for the second straight year. North finished fourth and Burnsville fifth in the 2016 state tournament, won by Wayzata.

The teams split two regular-season games in the South Suburban. Lakeville North won 1-0 on April 21, scoring the game’s only run in the bottom of the seventh. The Panthers’ Nick Spitt pitched a six-hit shutout.

In the rematch May 10, Burnsville’s Sam Carlson had a home run and four runs batted in and Caleb Casey pitched a two-hit shutout as the Blaze won 10-0 in five innings.

Lakeville North and Burnsville finished 14-4 in South Suburban Conference games.

Thursday’s game will be the first for both teams in more than a week, meaning both should have all their pitching options available. Burnsville’s Carlson, a projected first-round pick in Monday’s Major League Baseball draft, would be ready after pitching part of both games in the Section 3 final round, when Burnsville defeated East Ridge 4-3 and 7-1 to advance to state.

For Lakeville South, Luke DeGrammont, Ross Bastyr, Ryan Sleeper and Spitt all have started at least four games on the mound.

Burnsville had to win five consecutive games in Section 3 after losing to Rosemount in the second round. The Blaze needed two victories over East Ridge in the finals Wednesday at Dundas Memorial Park.

East Ridge led 3-1 after two innings in the first game but Burnsville chipped away, taking the lead in the sixth inning on RBI singles by Ryan Brunner and Jack Madsen.

Winning pitcher Max Carlson worked the first five innings and Sam Carlson pitched the final two, earning a save.

Sam Carlson also pitched the first two innings of the second game but left with the Blaze trailing 1-0. Burnsville’s offense eventually struck back, scoring two runs in the third inning, two in the fourth and three in the fifth. Dan Sandvig was 3-for-3 with three RBI and Max Carlson was 3-for-4 with three runs. Winning pitcher Henry Ristvedt held East Ridge to two hits over the final five innings.

Lakeville North wrapped up the Section 1 championship with a 5-4 victory over New Prague in Dundas. The Panthers went 4-0 in the tournament.

North trailed New Prague 4-1 before scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth. The Panthers scored the game-winner in the bottom of the seventh on Ryan Bastyr’s sacrifice fly.

The Lakeville North-Burnsville winner will play No. 1-seeded Wayzata or Eden Prairie in the semifinals at noon Friday at CHS Field. Wayzata and Eden Prairie play at 10 a.m. Thursday; the Lake Conference rivals are meeting in the state quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

Quarterfinal games in the other half of the Class 4A bracket are No. 2-seeded Forest Lake against Maple Grove at 3 p.m. Thursday and No. 3 seed Champlin Park against Woodbury at 5:30.

The Class 4A championship game will be 7 p.m. Monday, June 19, at Target Field.