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Cloquet Juniors journey to Indiana

The Cloquet Junior baseball team will go on to the Central Regionals next week in Fort Wayne, Ind. Pictured (left to right) are Head Coach Cody Grashorn, Levi Rossing, Derrick Moe, Elias Devore, Kaleb Sandy, Pat Delizo, Reid Sunnarborg, Assistant Coach Nate Witte, Riley Johnson, Noah Witte, Cooper Grashorn, Brian Broten, Parker Lundberg, Ryan Johnson, Ryan Leyrer and Assistant Coach Jamie Pollard. Not pictured is Assistant Coach Mike Sunnarborg.

Cloquet’s Derrick Moe enjoys baseball more than washing cars, but for the time being, the right-handed pitcher plans to continue cleaning more vehicles.

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That’s because Moe helped his Cloquet junior baseball team clean up Duluth Central in a 6-4 District 3 championship win last Tuesday at Wheeler Field in Duluth, now sending the team to the Central Regionals next week in Fort Wayne, Ind.

Moe pitched 2⅓ innings of relief last week in the biggest baseball game of his life. Since then, the team has been trying to raise funds for their 650-mile, 10-plus-hour trip with bake sales and, of course, car washes.

“I’m excited and nervous,” admitted Moe, a 15-year-old sophomore this fall at Cloquet High School. “I’ve never gotten to do anything like this before.”

This year is an unusual circumstance, however. Because there aren’t enough teams playing Little League junior baseball in the state, last week’s district title served as the state title as well.

The team’s shortstop, Cooper Grashorn, said they were informed before the winner-take-all game last week that the victor would go on to the “state of basketball” to play baseball.

“It’s really cool that we get to represent our state,” said Grashorn, a 14-year-old upcoming freshman at CHS. “It’s pretty surreal that we get to go to Indiana to play baseball.”

Grashorn’s father, Cody Grashorn, coaches the team. He said the 13-member squad is comprised mainly of incoming freshmen and a couple sophomores between the ages of 13 and 15. He said the team was formed through the two junior league Cloquet teams and was 5-1 in districts.

Sprinting to grab their pair of white banners after last week’s win, Coach Grashorn said the team members are thrilled.

“These kids haven’t stopped smiling since they found out [about Indiana],” said Cody Grashorn, who is assisted by coaches Jamie Pollard, Mike Sunnarborg and Nate Witte. “A lot of these kids watch Little League on TV. And although this is a little bit of a different level, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they are all pretty excited about.”

Along with the younger Grashorn and Moe, the team includes: Levi Rossing, Elias Devore, Kaleb Sandy, Pat Delizo, Reid Sunnarborg, Riley Johnson, Noah Witte, Brian Broten, Parker Lundberg, Ryan Johnson and Ryan Leyrer.

Cooper Grashorn said he and his teammates have never played out of this state too far.

“We’ve played in, like, Superior,” he said. “So this will probably be the No. 1 sports memory I’ll ever have.”