Gopher Classic coming to Bulletin area

The largest American Legion baseball tournament in the country, the Gopher Classic, is coming to the Bulletin area this weekend. Two different area teams are participating at two different venues.

Tri-City Maroon will host three days of pool play at Irondale High School while Tri-City Red plays in a pool at Bethel University’s Hargis Park.

Pool play runs Friday through Sunday and is followed by two days of playoffs on July 13 and 14.

The Gopher Classic features 96 teams from nine different states and Canada. Minnesota leads the roster of teams with 67. South Dakota is next with 10, followed by Nebraska with six. North Dakota is sending five, Wisconsin has three and there are single teams coming in from Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Wyoming and Canada.

The 96 teams are divided into 16 pools of six teams each. The pool winners advance to the playoffs on Monday and Tuesday.

Tri-City Red

Red is one of five teams from Minnesota playing at Bethel this weekend. Joining Tri-City is Brooklyn Park, North St. Paul Cavalry, Osseo, St. Louis Park and Sioux Falls East out of South Dakota. A second non-Minnesota team was scheduled to play at Bethel but that team from Anchorage, Alaska, backed out and was replaced by North St. Paul.

Tri-City Red opens the tournament with back-to-back games on Friday afternoon. Red faces St. Louis Park at 1 p.m. and North St. Paul Cavalry at 3:30 p.m. The game against North St. Paul counts in the Fourth District standings as it is also a make-up of a postponed game from earlier this summer.

It’ll be an early wake-up call for Tri-City Red on Saturday as it plays the first two games of the day. At 8 a.m. it’s Osseo and at 10:30 a.m. it’s Sioux Falls East. Red wraps up pool play on Sunday with a 1 p.m. game against Brooklyn Park.

The Bethel pool winner joins the other 15 pool winners in the first round of the playoffs July 13. The Bethel winner plays at 11:30 a.m. at Round Lake Stadium in Eden Prairie and could also play at 2 p.m. that day.

The semifinals and finals are July 14 at Veterans Field at Minnetonka High School.

A year ago, Tri-City Red advanced all the way to the championship game of the Gopher Classic before running out of gas. Red won its pool, which was supposed to be played at Bethel but was moved to Totino-Grace and Mounds View high schools because of flood damage from heavy rains at Hargis Park, with a 3-1 record (one game was cancelled). Tri-City beat Moline, Illinois, Yankton, South Dakota and Shakopee and lost to Elk River.

In the playoffs, Tri-City Red knocked off Tri-City Maroon, New Ulm Gold and Napoleon, Ohio to reach the finals against Excelsior. Playing on its home field, Excelsior wrapped up the tournament championship with an 11-3 victory.

In addition to the Gopher Classic, Tri-City Red also has two Fourth District games on the schedule this week. Red hosted Rosetown in a make-up game Monday, past the deadline for this edition of the Bulletin.

Tri-City then plays the North St. Paul 39ers on Wednesday at Kuenkel Field. Red began this week in second place in the district standings, one game ahead of the 39ers. Hamline Purple started the week in first place, one-half game ahead of Tri-City Red.

Red went 3-0 in district play last week with a pair of victories over White Bear and a win over Hamline Purple.

Last weekend, Tri-City Red played in the Upper Midwest Classic tournament in New Ulm. Red went 2-2 on the weekend with wins in pool play over Renner, South Dakota and Hutchinson and a pool-play loss to Eastview.

Tri-City finished second in its pool and advanced to the playoff portion of the tournament. Red went 0-1 in the playoffs with a loss to Creighton, Nebraska.

Tri-City Maroon

Maroon is hosting three other Minnesota teams and two from outside the state for its three days of pool play at Irondale. Joining Tri-City is Andover, Chippewa Falls, Renner, South Dakota, the Rochester Patriots and St. Francis.

Tri-City Maroon plays the last two games of the day on Friday, starting with Rochester at 3:30 p.m. and finishing with Renner at 6 p.m. Renner went 0-4 at the Upper Midwest Classic in New Ulm last weekend.

On Saturday, Maroon faces St. Francis at 8 a.m. and Chippewa Falls at 6 p.m. Tri-City closes out pool play on Sunday with a 6 p.m. game against Andover.

The Irondale pool winner advances to the playoffs on July 13 and will play at 11:30 a.m. at Round Lake Stadium in Eden Prairie. A win in that game means a 2 p.m. game that same day at Round Lake.

The semifinals and finals are July 14 at Veterans Field at Minnetonka High School.

A year ago, Maroon won its pool and advanced to the playoff portion of the tournament for the first time. Tri-City went 2-1 in pool play and had two games cancelled because of weather. Maroon beat Grand Forks (N.D.) 2-1 in 11 innings, lost 12-10 to Omaha Burke of Nebraska in 10 innings and beat the Academy Stars 10-2.

In the playoffs, Tri-City Maroon squared off against Tri-City Red and lost 14-4 in six innings. Red went on to finish runner-up.

Also on the schedule this week for Maroon is a pair of Fourth District games, starting with a home game on Tuesday against Hamline Red. Tri-City Maroon then travels to White Bear on Wednesday.

Tri-City went 3-0 in district play last week with victories over North St. Paul Cavalry, Hamline Purple and Hamline Red. Hamline Purple entered last week unbeaten and in first place in district play.

At the beginning of this week, Maroon was 5-3 in district play and trailed district-leading Hamline Purple by only one game in the loss column.

Maroon also played in a weekend tournament, the Firecracker 92 in Rochester. Tri-City went 2-1 to finish second in its pool. Maroon beat the Rochester Redhawks and Winnipeg and lost to pool winner Omaha. In the consolation round on Sunday, Tri-City faced Plover (Wisc.), the 2014 national runner-up, and won 4-3.

Brian Meyers can be reached at bmeyers@lillienews.com or 651-748-7819. Follow him on Twitter @BMeyersNews.

 

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