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Local Legion teams bow out of playoffs

Cloquet third baseman Mason Brenner tags out Gunnar Harris of Grand Rapids during the American Legion baseball playoff game in Hermantown. Dave Harwig/news@pinejournal.com1 / 2
Cloquet’s Hunter Roberts pitches in the American Legion playoffs against Grand Rapidson Friday. Dave Harwig/news@pinejournal.com2 / 2

The Cloquet American Legion baseball team lost two of the three games it played in last weekend’s District 8 Division I playoff series, finishing its summer schedule with a record of 9-14.

On Thursday, Cloquet lost its opening game 4-1 to Hibbing in a first-round game at Ordean Stadium. Cloquet scored in the first inning when Dylan Johnson led off with a single, moved up on Nate Weets’ sacrifice bunt and scored on Nate O’Hara’s single.

But that was as good as it got for Cloquet, which had seven hits, four walks off Hibbing pitcher Dylan Takkunen, and three hit batters for a total of 14 baserunners, but could only manage one run.

Cloquet had the bases loaded in the third, fourth and seventh innings and two runners on base in the fifth but were unable to score in any of the frames.

The loss dropped Cloquet into the losers’ bracket in the tournament, and the team responded by eliminating Proctor 5-2. Proctor had lost its opening game 11-10 to tournament favorite Nisswa.

On Friday, the team played at Fitchner Field in Hermantown against old nemesis Grand Rapids, which had lost to Duluth Lakeview the previous night.

Again the team’s bats were quiet, in a 5-1 loss that ended the team’s season.

Other Carlton County teams were also in action in the Division II tournament held in Ely.

On Tuesday, Moose Lake got off to a rocky start, falling 5-0 to International Falls. Ben Humbert, who will join Cloquet’s Brandon Conklin on a Minnesota select team playing in a tournament in Illinois next week, spun a one-hitter with 15 strikeouts to beat Moose Lake.

Esko also got off to a difficult start in the tournament, falling 7-6 to host Ely in their first game.

But both teams found their feet in the second round losers’ bracket games. On Friday, Esko won a 16-11 slugfest against Deer River and Moose Lake rebounded from its first loss with a 6-4 win over Taconite.

In their third game, Esko kept their hopes alive by eliminating Milaca by a 7-6 score while Moose Lake bowed out of the event with a 4-3 loss to Ely.

That put Esko into Saturday’s semifinals, where their run came to an end with a 4-2 defeat by the home team — which handed Esko both its losses in the tournament.