BEMIDJI - The top seed in the Section 8-3A baseball playoffs, Bemidji will play No. 4 St. Michael-Albertville 11 a.m. Saturday in St. Cloud in its first game of the section's final four.
Originally scheduled for a noon start, the game was advanced an hour to satisfy the demands of the St. Cloud River Bats of the Northwoods League who have a home game scheduled for Saturday night.
Saturday's other final-four opener sees St. Cloud Apollo facing Rocori. Apollo, the No. 2 seed in the section, nipped Big Lake 4-3 Monday while Rocori, the third seed, stopped Sartell.
St. Michael advanced with a 3-2 win over Alexandria.
The Lumberjacks, 20-1, will also play at 2 p.m. Saturday. If they defeat St. Michael-Albertville the Jacks will tangle with the Apollo-Rocori survivor in the winner's bracket final. A loss to St. Michael-Albertville would drop BHS into the loser's bracket and an elimination game against the Apollo-Rocori loser.
The late-morning start could be a problem for Bemidji as the Jacks will board the bus at 7 a.m. to be in St. Cloud in time for the contest.
"Noon or 11 a.m. is no big deal," said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. "We will use the early start and the long bus ride as motivation rather than as an excuse."
BHS is coming off Monday's 13-3 pasting of Sauk Rapids in the tournament's second round. The Lumberjacks spotted the Storm a 2-0 lead but needed only five innings to advance to the final four in the 8-3A tourney.
"I thought we did a nice job on Monday," Fogelson said of his team's performance. "Even though we were down early we remained calm and we did the right things. There was no nervousness at all and last year I think there would have been.
"The way we came back just showed that this year's team is a little more seasoned," Fogelson added.
Saturday's final four will feature the teams that, according to the seedings, should be there but the road wasn't easy for some of them.
"Some of the favorites just snuck on through," Fogelson said. "St. Cloud Apollo needed a two-out, walk-off double to score two runs and defeat big Lake 4-3. St. Michael won by one run and Rocori only 5-2.
"We're heading to St. Cloud with confidence and with high expectations of ourselves," the coach continued. "We are realistic and we know what we need to do."
Section 8-3A Tournament
Sauk Rapids 2, Moorhead 1
Alexandria 4, St. Cloud Tech 3
Big Lake 9, Brainerd 3
Sartell 6, Monticello 5
Bemidji 13, Sauk Rapids 3
St. Michael-Albertville 3, Alexandria 2
St. Cloud Apollo 4, Big Lake 3
Rocori 5, Sartell 2
Saturday's Final Four
11 a.m. at St. Cloud
Game 1: Bemidji vs. St. Michael
Game 2: St. Cloud Apollo vs. Rocori
2 p.m. at St. Cloud
Game 3: Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, (loser eliminated)
Game 4: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Game 5: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 loser, 3 p.m. (loser eliminated)
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 7 p.m.
Game 7: Repeat of Game 6, 7 p.m. (if necessary)