ST. PAUL - Bemidji's quest for a state baseball championship continues Thursday at Midway Stadium when the Lumberjacks tangle with Hill-Murray at 12:30 p.m.
The game is, arguably, the marquee match-up of the Class 3-A first round. Bemidji enters the state tournament rated No. 1 in the state's computer-generated QRF rankings which are based on record and strength of schedule. Hill Murray is third on that state-wide list.
Both teams also have caught the attention of the state high school baseball coaches as Bemidji is rated third in that poll and Hill-Murray is fourth. The top two teams in the coaches poll, Burnsville and Maple Grove, saw their seasons end during the section playoffs so Bemidji and Hill-Murray are the highest-ranked survivors.
Thursday's other upper-bracket state opener sees Hopkins facing Eden Prairie. Hopkins is ranked fifth in the QRF and seventh in the poll while Eden Prairie is 13th and 23rd.
The 3 p.m. lower-bracket opener pits Eastview (15 QRF, 14 poll) against Red Wing (2 QRF, 5 poll).
The final state quarterfinal finds Grand Rapids (10 QRF, 18 poll) against Totino-Grace (22 QRF, not rated in the coaches poll).
If the Lumberjacks defeat Hill-Murray they will advance to the state semifinals at Midway Stadium on June 15 and a noon match-up the Hopkins-Eden Prairie winner. A loss in the opener would drop Bemidji into the consolation round and a 10 a.m. game that same day at Dunning Field against the Hopkins-Eden Prairie loser.
Class 3A Tournament Pairings
Thursday, June 14
Game 1: Hopkins (18-6) vs. Eden Prairie (14-10), 10 a.m.
Game 2: Bemidji (23-2) vs. Hill-Murray (21-4), 12:30 p.m.
Game 3: Eastview (19-5) vs. Red Wing (22-1), 3 p.m.
Game 4: Grand Rapids (19-6) vs. Totino-Grace (16-7), 5:30 p.m.
Friday, June 15
Semifinals, Midway Stadium
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, noon
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 2:30 p.m.
Game 6: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 10 a.m.
Game 7: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser, 12:30 p.m.
Game 8: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner, 3 p.m.
Game 9: Game 4 loser vs. Game 5 loser, 5 p.m.
Monday, June 18
Game 10: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner