Cloquet impressive in Lakeview Classic

The Cloquet Legion baseball team turned in a sterling performance this past weekend by taking second place in the always-challenging Lakeview Classic Legion Baseball Tournament.

The Cloquet Legion baseball team turned in a sterling performance this past weekend by taking second place in the always-challenging Lakeview Classic Legion Baseball Tournament.

Despite opening with a 13-5 loss to St. Paul Arcade Phalen, the Cloquet Legion was able to bounce back and play their way into the title game.

"We led through five innings 5-3, but we gave up three runs in the sixth inning and seven in the top of the seventh," recalled Cloquet coach Steve Jezierski.

"Matt Ellison pitched a gem through five innings, but fell victim to a couple of untimely errors and I think he probably tired. We came off a 12-day break with two games during the week and I used three pitchers in those games. Matt had the least amount of rest."

August Reynolds led Cloquet with two hits.


  • Game two saw Cloquet down Hinckley 11-1 in a game shortened by the mercy rule.

"The Hinckley High School program has been very successful the past two years in compiling a 44-10 record," Jezierski mentioned. "Their legion coach told me that baseball is the number one sport at the high school and they have a nice tradition and a great facility."
Unfortunately for Hinckley was that they ran into Thomas Jezierski who fired a three-hitter to keep their bats silent.

"After scoring four runs in the second inning, we broke the game open with five runs in the third," Jezierski explained. "Thomas Jezierski, Matt Ellison, Jon Becker and Dennis Conklin each had two hits and both Conklin and Ellison had a pair of RBIs."

  • The biggest upset of the tournament occurred in the third game when Cloquet knocked off the eventual champion, Eau Claire, 3-1.

"I was told beforehand that Eau Claire was the cream of the tournament," stated Jezierski. "One guy who has been around American Legion baseball told me they would be the best team our kids would ever play at any level. They were about as good as advertised."
Cloquet was able to pull off the upset because of another fine pitching performance, this one from Thomas Rogers.

"Thomas held them to five hits and one run and that run was unearned," commented Jezierski. "The 30-mile-per hour wind blowing in at Athletic Field did help us, but we both played on the same field and good-hitting teams shouldn't have to hit the ball out of the park. Thomas more than did his job."

Cloquet scored three runs in the third with four consecutive two-out hits and they ended up with seven hits for the game.

Earlier this season, Eau Claire defeated last year's Wisconsin Legion runner-up Plover, 23-0.

"I think what has impressed everyone is their powerful offense, but their pitching and defense is every bit as impressive to me," recalled Jezierski. "After the tournament, I googled and found an article in their local paper that said they draw from no less than seven schools."

  • The win gave Cloquet the top seed in their pool and matched them up in a championship game with Centennial, which Cloquet won 10-2.

"Saturday was a good day for us because we beat a Minnesota state-ranked team in convincing fashion," Jezierski said. "Bryan Anderson gave us another solidly pitched game, allowing just five hits and our defense turned in a couple of timely double plays to keep our lead at 2-1 through four innings before the offense kicked in."
Adam Boleman had three hits, while August Reynolds, Tyler Tollerud and Jon Becker all had two hits.


  • In the semifinals, Cloquet downed Cambridge 4-3, a team that went 19-1 during the high school season.

"Dedric Clark pitched his best game of both the spring and summer," Jezierski explained. "Our defense turned a couple of double plays and we saw strong defense from our outfield."
Cloquet bashed out 11 hits, but they needed a two-run rally in the final inning to win. The rally was keyed by Tyler Tollerud's bunt base hit. The bunt loaded the bases with nobody out and then Thomas Jezierski and Bryan Anderson followed with run-scoring singles.

  • The win sent Cloquet into the title game against Eau Claire, which had just finished beating a strong Rochester team 10-0 and Lakeview of Duluth 17-1.

"Thomas Jezierski wanted the ball and responded with a very well-pitched game that kept us competitive," coach Jezierski said. "Eau Claire scored two runs in the third and fourth innings."
While Thomas Jezierski did his best to quiet the Eau Claire bats, the Cloquet bats were silent as well, and Cloquet lost 6-1.

"They held us to two hits," mentioned coach Jezierski. "Had we been able to counter-punch, I would have been interested in seeing how they would have reacted. I think the difference between us and the other teams is that we were not intimidated. Instead our players looked at it as a challenge."

Now that the Lakeview Classic is history, Cloquet will look to peak for the playoffs which begin on Wednesday, July 30, in Cloquet.

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