Gopher Classic baseball tourney starts Friday

Lakeville North, Burnsville will be pool-play hosts

The Gopher Classic, the country’s largest American Legion baseball tournament, celebrates its 40th year beginning Friday with pool-play games at 16 sites across the metro area.

Six teams from the Sun Thisweek and Dakota County Tribune coverage area will compete, and Alimagnet Park in Burnsville and Fredrickson Field in Elko are two pool-play sites.

Pool-play games will run Friday through Sunday, with each team scheduled to play five games over the three days. The winners of 16 pools will advance to single-elimination playoffs starting Monday in Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and North St. Paul. The championship game will be 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 11, at Veterans Field in Minnetonka.

Wayzata defeated Omaha Skutt of Nebraska 7-3 in the 2016 Gopher Classic championship game. Both teams are entered in this year’s tourney. The event will draw 96 teams from nine states and two Canadian provinces.

Lakeville North and Farmington will play in the Lakeville North pool, with most games taking place at Fredrickson Field. One exception is a game between Lakeville North and Farmington, which will be 11:30 a.m. Sunday at Lakeville North High School.

Lakeville North’s opening game in the tournament is 7 p.m. Friday against Bemidji at Fredrickson Field. Farmington’s opener is 4:30 p.m. Friday against Bemidji, also at Frederickson Field. The Rochester A’s, Omaha Roncalli and Saskatoon Diamondbacks also are in the Lakeville North pool, which sends its champion to a round-of-16 game against the Maple Grove pool winner at Veterans Field at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

Burnsville will have a pool-play doubleheader Friday against New Ulm Gold (4:30 p.m.) and Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin (7:30 p.m.). The Cobras will play one game Saturday and two more Sunday in a pool that also has East Ridge, Team Manitoba and Chaska. The Burnsville-East Ridge game at 7 p.m. Sunday will match many of the same players that were in the Class 4A, Section 3 championship game during the high school baseball season.

The Burnsville pool champion plays the Anoka pool champion in the round of 16 in North St. Paul at 11:30 a.m. Monday.

Rosemount will be in the Chester Bird pool at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park. Rosemount’s opening game is against Chester Bird at 10:30 a.m. Friday.

Eagan’s pool-play opener is against Lincoln, Nebraska, at 2 p.m. Friday at Northwestern University in Roseville. The Patriots will play Mankato National at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Eastview will go to the Tri-City Maroon pool at Irondale High School and will play two games Friday against Elk River (1 p.m.) and Tri-City Maroon (3:30).

More information about the Gopher Classic is available at gopherclassic.pointstreaksites.com.