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story.lead_photo.caption Linn's Andy Hueste slides into home safely on a wild pitch in the top of the fifth inning of last Tuesday's Class 3 sectional game against Forsyth at Linn. Photo by Colin O'Brien / News Tribune.

The Linn Wildcats will be one step from competing in the baseball program's first-ever state championship game today when they take on the Elsberry Indians in the Class 3 state semifinals.

Game time between Linn (15-9) and Elsberry (17-6) is 1:30 p.m. at U.S. Baseball Park in Ozark.

Both teams enter the Final Four unranked in the most recent Class 3 poll released by the Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association. This is the first-ever appearance for the Indians in the state semifinals, while the Wildcats are making their third trip to the Final Four.

Linn's previous state semifinal appearances came at the Class 2 level, finishing fourth in 2009 and third in 2014 after dropping both semifinal contests.

The Wildcats have averaged 12.8 runs per game during the postseason. As the No. 2 seed in the District 9 Tournament, Linn defeated Dixon 9-5 and Licking 17-7 in six innings to claim its eighth district title, and first since 2017.

In the state playoffs, Linn defeated Forsyth 10-4 at home in the sectionals before routing third-ranked Skyline 15-3 last Friday in the quarterfinals at Versailles.

The Wildcats finished the regular season on a three-game losing skid before bouncing back in the postseason. Seven of the team's nine losses have come against foes in the Tri-County and Show-Me conferences.

Elsberry, the District 6 champion, ended the regular season with back-to-back losses but has bounced back with four straight wins to get to the Final Four.

The Indians defeated Hermann 4-3 and Montgomery County 4-1 to win the program's 11th district title. Elsberry then topped Maplewood-Richmond Heights 7-3 in the sectionals before beating Father Tolton 6-4 last Thursday in the quarterfinals.

Elsberry began the season with a 2-4 record before reeling off 11 consecutive wins, never losing in the month of April. The Indians are scoring 6.1 runs per game and allowing 3.7 this season, compared to 8.1 and 5.1, respectively, for Linn.

The other Class 3 semifinal game matches up unranked Jefferson: Festus (17-8) and seventh-ranked St. Pius X: Kansas City (21-3) at 11 a.m. today.

Jefferson: Festus won the program's first-ever district championship this season, while St. Pius X: Kansas City won its 19th district title and advanced to its eighth Final Four, last winning a state title in 1999.

The semifinal winners will play for the state championship at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. The third-place game is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday.

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