Mounds View baseball two wins from improbable state trip

What a difference double elimination throughout the tournament can make to a team.

A year ago, the Mounds View High School baseball team lost a rain-shortened, first-round playoff game to a lower-seeded opponent, and its season was over. The Mustangs also dropped their playoff opener this year, but because of a format change were not left on the outside looking in. Since then, they’ve made the most of their second chance.

Following a loss to 10th-seeded North St. Paul in the first round of the Coon Rapids subsection (so named because of the location of the games), seventh-seeded Mounds View has rattled off five straight victories and is just two wins away from a spot in the state tournament.

Each subsection was played in a four-team (or in the case of the Irondale subsection a three-team), double-elimination format. The four subsections advanced to the section tournament, another double-elimination setup where previous losses did not matter. That meant that Mounds View and Tartan, which both suffered a loss in subsections, began the finals on equal footing with Coon Rapids and Totino-Grace, which both went undefeated in subsections.

Mounds View faces top-seeded Coon Rapids in the semifinals Monday at 1 p.m. at Midway Stadium in St. Paul. The winner is guaranteed a spot in the section final with two chances to win one game for the section title. The loser drops into the loser’s bracket final and faces the task of winning three straight games to get to state.

Mounds View earned the right to take on Coon Rapids by beating third-seeded Totino-Grace 2-0 in the first round of the section final four. Totino meets fifth-seeded Tartan in the loser’s bracket game Monday morning.

After falling 4-1 to North St. Paul, Mounds View needed to win four in a row just to get out of the subsection. The Mustangs began that quest with an 11-5 thumping of 15th-seeded Fridley, and then got revenge on North with a 6-1 win to eliminate the Polars. Beating North St. Paul sent Mounds View to the subsection final on Memorial Day, where it needed consecutive wins over second-seeded Hill-Murray. Mounds View eked out a 5-4 win in game one and put the Pioneers away early in game two, winning 12-2.

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