Favored Cloquet VFW team loses early in district playoffs
Expectations were high for the Cloquet VFW boys baseball team last week. Entering the VFW District playoffs, Cloquet was the No. 1 seed from the south and a top contender for a state berth. Those expectations came crashing down as the VFW lost tw...
Expectations were high for the Cloquet VFW boys baseball team last week. Entering the VFW District playoffs, Cloquet was the No. 1 seed from the south and a top contender for a state berth. Those expectations came crashing down as the VFW lost two straight and were eliminated from the tournament.
"The two teams that concerned me the most were Duluth East and Hermantown," said coach Rick Stowell. "In the first game in our bracket, Hermantown saved their No. 1 pitcher and lost to Virginia 13-3, then our first two innings went so well we thought everything was falling into place."
Cloquet took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the third of their first game of the day, against Nashwauk, but due to poor base running they were unable to score in the inning despite three hits.
In the fourth inning, Nashwauk scored three times on consecutive batters. Cloquet had a chance to tie the game with the tying run at third and one out, but they were unable to put the ball in play.
"For two and a half innings we were on top of the world," explained Stowell. "Throughout JV and VFW ball, the guys were a combined 39-4. We felt we were the best team and we looked like it, unfortunately the mental mistakes became contagious and for the next 11-1/2 innings we were very average."
Cloquet lost the game 3-2.
Following the disappointing game one loss Cloquet had to face Hermantown and their number one pitcher, but Cloquet fell short in a 7-6 loss. Two of Cloquet's three losses during the regular season came against the same pitcher.
"We only made one error in the two games, but it was a big one as it allowed Hermantown to take a 2-0 lead after one inning," recalled Stowell. "The Hermantown game was not as close as the score. We had a lot of hits with the bases empty, but we couldn't get runners on base."
Cloquet, which averages nine runs a game during the season, did not score an earned run in the two games of the tournament.
Duluth East defeated Hermantown to win the district title and earn the state tournament berth.
Members of the Cloquet VFW team include Thomas Rogers, Thomas Jezierski, John Becker, Kyle Becker, Joe Singpiel, Nathaniel Schulz, Jake Horn, Tyler Tollerud, August Reynolds, Corbin Morse, Dennis Conklin, Connor Stowell, Peter LaCourse, Dedric Clark and Travis Smeshammer.