Baseball Playoffs: No field, no problem for Esko VFWWith their town’s baseball field set for reconstruction, Nick Emanuel said he and his Esko VFW teammates used the school’s nearby Little League field for practice once.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
With their town’s baseball field set for reconstruction, Nick Emanuel said he and his Esko VFW teammates used the school’s nearby Little League field for practice once.
“It definitely was a struggle,” said Emanuel, the team’s 15-year-old catcher, noting all games were played on the road <\_> including this past spring <\_> and practices were batting cage sessions. “Just getting on whatever field we could was great.”
Surpassing their struggles for field usage, Esko (22-7) amassed one of its greatest VFW summers ever, finally falling 6-0 at Grand Rapids Tuesday afternoon in a District 8 elimination game <\_> one step shy of the championship round.
After winning five of their opening six postseason games, eight early Esko errors led to a 9-3 defeat to International Falls Monday, while two more errors in Tuesday’s opening inning led to four Thunderhawk runs and Esko’s eventual exit from the double-elimination tournament format.
“We’ve had issues getting out of the first inning all year,” said Coach Brad Emanuel. “We really missed having a field.”
Switching from softball to baseball to coach his son, Brad Emanuel <\_> also the school’s softball coach <\_> said his team hit the ball hard Tuesday, just right at the defenders.
“Our mission was to get these kids better, and in all aspects, we’ve done that,” said Emanuel, who was assisted by the school’s baseball coach, Ben Haugen. “I haven’t been a part of baseball really since I played at UMD [from 1982-86]. I was sad this ended. I had a blast with Ben and all these kids.”
Haugen, who watched his 8-year-old son, Cale, play youth baseball all day Saturday during Carlton Daze, said he was joined by Esko Nitro Coach Shawn Northey Tuesday, after his intermediate team placed runner-up in Kalamazoo, Mich., as a part of the Intermediate Little League World Series regionals.
“It’s buzzing in our neck of the woods,” Haugen said.
“I see some good baseball coming up,” added Nick Emanuel, noting the new field. “I’m already thinking of it.”
Moose Lake is thinking baseball still, too, said Coach Jim Ryan. After winning several playoff games <\_> and finishing 19-23 <\_> Ryan said some players are planning for the winter.
“These kids played 42 games this summer,” Ryan said. “And once it snows, it’s down to batting cages in the Cities.”
Cloquet’s baseball teams are also done, with the VFW losing out last week and American Legion on Saturday.
“I had a blast,” noted first-year Coach Nate Windschill.
“From mid-March to the end of July, it’s a long season,” said Cloquet Coach Rick Norrgard. “But they’re still hungry.”