Burnsville, Elko are host sites for pool play

Burnsville and Elko will be host sites for the Gopher Classic, the annual American Legion baseball extravaganza that begins Friday.

Burnsville, Eagan, Eastview, Farmington, Lakeville North and Lakeville South will be in the 96-team field. Pool-play games will be Friday through Sunday, with the 16 pool winners advancing to single-elimination playoff games Monday. The championship game is 2 p.m. Tuesday, July 16, at Lions Park in Victoria.

This is the 42nd edition of the tournament, which started in 1977, Omaha Millard West of Nebraska is defending champion. Minnesota teams have won the tournament five of the last eight years, including Eagan’s championship in 2013. Eastview placed second in 2011.

Teams from eight states and two Canadian provinces will play in the tournament. The field includes eight of the top nine teams from last week’s Minnesota state rankings, including No. 1 Excelsior, No. 3 Eastview and No. 4 Wayzata.

Burnsville will be host to two teams from South Dakota and one from Nebraska in its six-team pool at Burnsville High School. The Cobras play Watertown, S.D., at 9:30 a.m. Friday and the Rochester Eagles at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Burnsville plays Papillion South of Nebraska at 4:30 p.m. and Sioux Falls (S.D.) West at 7. The Cobras play Coon Rapids at 7 p.m. Sunday.

Lakeville North will be host of pool play at Fredrickson Field in Elko, with the exception of one game to be at Lakeville North High School. North plays once Friday, taking on Sioux Falls East at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Lakeville North plays Omaha Roncalli at 2 p.m. and Stillwater at 7. Sunday’s pool play includes North taking on East Grand Forks at 10:30 a.m. at Lakeville North High School, and North facing Shakopee at 4:30 p.m. at Fredrickson Field.

Farmington and Eastview will meet in pool play at Maple Grove High School at 4:30 p.m. Friday, with Farmington taking on Maple Grove at 7.

Lakeville South plays Bloomington Gold in the opening game of pool play at Red Haddox Field in Bloomington at 9 a.m. Friday. South also plays Mitchell, S.D., at 2 p.m. Friday.

Eagan will play Edina in a pool-play opener at Braemar Park in Edina at 9 a.m. Friday. The Patriots return to the field at 2:30 p.m. to play Belleview East of Omaha.

The tournament will test teams’ pitching depth. If there are no rainouts, the champion and runner-up will have played nine games in five days.

For the Minnesota teams in the tournament, the Gopher Classic also serves at a tune-up for Sub-State playoffs that begin later this month. The Sub-State playoffs send teams to the state American Legion tournament Aug. 1-4 in Cold Spring.

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