Esko Little League team heads to stateCarried by their lockdown defense, timely hitting and aggressive style of play, the Esko 11- and 12-year-old traveling baseball team captured the District 3 Little League championship last Thursday evening in Duluth.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Carried by their lockdown defense, timely hitting and aggressive style of play, the Esko 11- and 12-year-old traveling baseball team captured the District 3 Little League championship last Thursday evening in Duluth.
According to fifth-year District 3 Assistant Administrator and Umpire-in-Chief Brent Kubis, it was the first time in recent memory that Esko has won the district and represented their small community at this week’s state tournament.
“In my best recollection it is their first time ever,” Kubis said. “Those kids are a fun team to watch. Their pitchers throw just fine, their defense can play and they like to take risks.”
Risky play and applying pressure is what Kubis said enabled Esko to win the championship over Hermantown 5-2 last Thursday at the Lake Park Little League complex in Duluth. Overall, Esko won all six of their district games.
Blitzing their opponents 71-14 in their half a dozen wins over the past week, Esko ran to the title by dumping Duluth Eastern, Duluth Central, Cloquet and Lake Park in pool play, and then topped Proctor in the semifinals before dowsing the Hawks. Led by their defense, Esko posted three shutouts in their six games.
“Defensively, [Esko] was the best team I saw in the district,” said Kubis of the nine-team tournament. “These kids cheer and really get into it. They have fun. I can’t remember an Esko team getting to this level before. They can really play.”
Kubis, a 2001 Esko graduate and former Little Leaguer for the small community, said it was huge for the town. He noted this week’s four-team state tournament is held by Centennial Little League in Circle Pines, Minn., July 25-29.
Kubis said he likes Esko’s chances at state if they play well. Following state is regionals in Indianapolis and World Series in Pennsylvania. Sent off in style, Esko was acknowledged at Sunday’s Duluth Huskies game at Wade Stadium in Duluth.