Chaska, St. Cloud and St. Paul will be major hubs for players, coaches and fans when the Minnesota State High School Baseball Tournament begins Thursday.
All three defending state champs are back for a chance to repeat. BOLD in Class 1A, Kasson-Mantorville in 2A and Mounds View in 3A all have talented teams capable of rattling off three straight wins once again.
First- and- second-round games will be played at Chaska Athletic Park (1A), Dick Putz Field in St. Cloud (2A) and Midway Stadium in St. Paul (3A).
Check out our previews below, but for brackets and game times click here.
CLASS 1A PREVIEW
BOLD (21-3) vs. Red Lake County (20-5)
BOLD is back to defend it's 2013 title and once again left-hander Logan Sandgren is leading the way. Sandgren, according to the West Central Tribune, is 9-0 with a 0.63 ERA. He's tossed five shutouts, a no-hitter and a perfect game.
Springfield (21-2) vs. New Life Academy (22-4)
According to the MSHSL, Springfield is back in the tourney for the first time since 1984, and New Life Academy is in for the first time in school history.
Royalton (12-10) vs. Chatfield (21-3)
Chatfield's 2013-14 boys high school sports year has been phenomenal. According to the Post-Bulletin, the school has already won state titles in football and wrestling.
Ely (21-2) vs. New York Mills (23-0)
New York Mills is the only remaining undefeated team in the state.
CLASS 2A PREVIEW
The Blake School (19-6) vs. St. Cloud Cathedral (24-1)
Cathedral is the top seed in 2A, but its first-round draw is against another school with great baseball tradition. According to the St. Cloud Times, Blake had two wins this season over St. Anthony Village, which spent much of the season as 2A's No. 1 team.
Delano (16-9) vs. Glencoe-Silver Lake (17-4)
GSL is a slight favorite, the Hutchinson Leader says, based on an earlier season victory over Delano. GSL is also throwing staff ace Cole Peterson.
Hawley (18-6) vs. Kasson-Mantorville (21-4)
Back-to-back titles for the KoMets will be tough considering how powerful (11 home runs), fast (81 steals) and pitching dominant (two outstanding strikeout pitchers) Hawley is.
Aitkin (22-4) vs. Fairmont (23-1)
According to the Fairmont Sentinel, Fairmont's team batting average is a staggering .360. Luke Becker set school records this season by hitting .560 with nine home runs, 37 RBIs and 34 runs scored. Fairmont has won 23 straight.
CLASS 3A PREVIEW
Brainerd (21-3) vs. Lakeville North (21-4)
Top seed Lakeville North is red-hot following three straight wins in its section, outscoring its opponents 25-2 along the way. According to the Brainerd Dispatch, fans attending the game at Midway Stadium have to park in the Fourth Street ramp and walk across the bridge to the stadium.
Elk River (17-8) vs. Mounds View (18-6)
Defending champ Mounds View has the name of all names in Minnesota prep baseball. Sam Hentges, a 6-foot-4 power-hitting first baseman, is the Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year. He was also picked by the Cleveland Indians in the fourth round of last week's MLB Draft, KSTP reports.
Robbinsdale Armstrong (14-9) vs. Eden Prairie (18-6)
Armstrong is back in the tourney for the first time since 2010. Eden Prairie, a perennial baseball power, is back for the tenth time in school history, as reported by Eden Prairie News.
Lakeville South (7-18) vs. Mahtomedi (23-1)
The surprise of the tournament is Lakeville South. The Cougars started the season by losing 17 of its first 18 games, but somehow flipped a switch to run through Section 1 and into the state tourney with a remarkable 7-18 record.
“Lakeville South has never been to state, it means a lot to us as a team to be the 1st team to do that," senior Cody Metz told KARE 11. "The coaches put trust in us and turned the season around.”