Among the field of 16 teams that make up the Class B state amateur baseball tournament, four call the Metro Minny League home, including the Blaine Fusion and Coon Rapids Redbirds.
Blaine was the Section 2B top-seed and held on for the section title over No. 4-seed Coon Rapids, which swept both best-of-three series against Ramsey and Champlin to reach the section final against Blaine.
With both finalists already qualifying for state, Saturday’s game was to determine seeding for state and bragging rights as Section 2B champion.
Coon Rapids scored four times in the top of the first inning and made it 5-0 in the second inning against Fusion pitcher Davis Bryan, who was pitching on only three days’ rest.
Brooks Manner scattered two hits in five innings of relief before Matt Mossey picked up the win, pitching the final two innings. The pair gave up three hits and struck out seven Redbirds.
Blaine’s bats chipped away at the 5-0 lead with two runs in the first inning, another pair of runs in the fourth inning and tied the game in the fifth inning as Ryan Sutterer knocked in his third run of the game.
Fusion cleanup hitter Alex Wojciechowski broke up the tie with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the ninth inning with no outs.
Redbirds pitcher Andrew Driessen surrendered five runs on six hits over 4.1 innings before Carson Selin worked the remaining 3.2 innings and took the loss in relief.
Patrick O’Donnell went 3-for-5 and Kean Paxton had a pair of doubles to highlight Coon Rapids’ effort at the plate.
Coon Rapids swept first-year franchise and No. 4-seed Ramsey 2-0 in the first round before doing the same to No. 2-seed Champlin in the semifinal round by scores of 10-1 and 6-4.
The LoGators easily won both regular season games, but Coon Rapids came alive at the right time. Down 1-0 to Champlin after the first inning of Game 1, Coon Rapids scored seven runs in the top of the sixth inning and never trailed in the series again.
In Game 1, O’Donnell went 3-for-5 and scored twice and Tyler Stein had the other multiple-hit game for Coon Rapids and drove in a game-high three runs. Zach Sather and Grant Farley each drove in a pair of runs.
Steve Schroer took the win on the mound, scattering seven hits and one run across 6.1 innings. Andrew Driessen picked up the final two outs of the seventh inning before Nick Denny returned to action and gave up one hit over the final two innings of relief duty.
Denny made his first appearance with Coon Rapids since one inning of relief in a 7-6 loss to Maple Lake July 20.
During his time away from the Redbirds, Denny pitched for the St. Cloud Rox, making four appearances, giving up six hits, two strikeouts and one walk in 2.2 innings of work.
Coon Rapids scored twice in the first inning of Game 2 of the series and extended the lead to 6-0 with a four-run sixth inning. Champlin scored twice in the home half of the sixth and ninth innings for narrow final score.
Denny struck out two LoGators in the ninth inning but couldn’t close the door after giving up two runs on three hits, hit one batter and walked another. Driessen picked up the save by recording the final out.
Nelson was the starter for Coon Rapids, serving up seven strong innings of work. He gave up two runs on two hits and struck out six batters.
Stein once again came through with the bat, going 3-for-4 with a double, and O’Donnell scored twice. Farley was 1-for-2 at the plate and was hit by a pitch twice.
Forest Lake and Isanti came through Section 8B to give the league four teams at state.
The Brewers (18-2, 30-7 overall) captured the Metro Minny League title, one game ahead of Blaine (17-3, 34-8 overall) and three ahead of Champlin (15-5, 25-13 overall).
The Redbirds made their only state appearance in 2008 while this will be Blaine’s fifth trip (2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010).
Blaine opens state against Duluth Xpress at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at Bruce Frank Field in LeSueur.
Coon Rapids opens against Moorhead at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Mini Met in Jordan.
Quarterfinals are set for Aug. 29 in Jordan and Bell Plaine. Semifinals and championship games will be played Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 in Bell Plaine, respectively.
Jason Olson is at