Cloquet Legion to host Lakeview Legion ClassicIt all starts for Cloquet with a 10 a.m. Friday game at Ed Mettner Field against Cambridge, followed by a game against Lakeville North at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the team will host River Falls at 10 a.m. in the last game of pool play.
It was the game that wasn’t.
Local baseball fans looking for a rematch of the Cloquet/Proctor section championship baseball game played in American Legion form were disappointed by an issue that affected the Proctor team.
They couldn’t be in two places at the same time.
Proctor double-booked the date, so the game against Cloquet was
“They were scheduled to play us tonight in Proctor and Hibbing in Hibbing,” Coach Dennis Conklin said. “So they went to Hibbing.”
As a result, Cloquet will play Hermantown on Wednesday night. With the recent foul weather and flooding, the game will mark Hermantown’s first game of the Legion season, with Cloquet standing at 1-1 and idle for nearly two weeks due to persistent rain – or worse – on game nights.
“We’ve played two games and had three cancelled,” Conklin said. “The last time we played was two weeks ago (Tuesday).”
Once the team takes the field, it will look a lot different from the varsity team that enjoyed such success. There are only two seniors – Adam Hanson and Derek Anderson – on the team, which boasts two juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen among its 13 members.
“The schedule is full and the boys would like to play,” Conklin said. “But we have a lot of seniors who just didn’t come out for the team.”
To make matters worse, freshman catcher/pitcher and cleanup hitter Brandon Conklin, the coach’s son, broke his hip in the section championship game and will miss about another six weeks. “Everything we’ve gotten back on Brandon has been positive,” Dennis Conklin said.
So it’s a young and inexperienced team that will take to the field this weekend in the massive Lakeview Legion classic. Fields all over the area are being used to host the event, with Cloquet getting to play three games on its home field this weekend.
It all starts for Cloquet with a 10 a.m. Friday game at Ed Mettner Field against Cambridge, followed by a game against Lakeville North at 5:30 p.m. On Saturday, the team will host River Falls at 10 a.m. in the last game of pool play.
There’s one area of importance that will become a concern with all the rain dates stacking up.
“We have 10 kids doing double duty between VFW ball and the Legion team,” Conklin said. “We’re running out of [pitching] arms.”
With Brandon Conklin injured and senior Taylor Blundell not out for the team, Conklin estimates that 14 innings of work per week are not available to the team. Sophomore Victor Foxx is also a pitching candidate.
“Our staff consists of one senior (Hanson), one sophomore and three freshmen on the Legion team,” Conklin said.
Not that this is all bad. The freshman class has a strong pedigree already.
“This group of freshmen lost state championship games at the 11-, 12-, 13- and 14-year-old age brackets,” Conklin said. “This class will be good.”
For now, the youngsters are 1-1 on the year, rallying from 3-0 down to beat the West Duluth Cubs in their first game and falling 9-2 to the Superior Reds after trailing 2-1 in the sixth.
“Superior had six college freshmen on their team, and we have three high school freshmen on ours,” Conklin said. “When we get healthy, though, we’ll be OK.”