'Jacks win season opener
The Cloquet Lumberjacks opened the high school baseball season with an impressive 8-4 win over the North Branch Vikings on the road Saturday. "I was especially pleased with our pitching and the way we swung the bats," said coach Steve Jezierski. ...
The Cloquet Lumberjacks opened the high school baseball season with an impressive 8-4 win over the North Branch Vikings on the road Saturday.
"I was especially pleased with our pitching and the way we swung the bats," said coach Steve Jezierski. "We only struck out one and we didn't swing at any bad pitches."
The Vikings took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but Cloquet struck back with a run in the top of the third to tie the game at 1-1.
"John Becker hit a high fastball off the left center field fence," explained Jezierski. "Reid Ellingson waited on a two-strike off-speed pitch and took it up the middle to score Becker."
However, the Vikings responded by scoring twice in the bottom of the third to take a 3-1 lead, but the Jacks fought back with two in the top of the fourth to make it 3-3.
"Ryan Lindstrom led off with a walk, advanced to second on Austin Hatch's bunt single and then scored on Thomas Rogers' base hit," explained Jezierski. "Matt Ellison brought home Hatch with a base hit on a safety squeeze."
The Jacks broke things open in the fourth inning with four runs on four consecutive singles by Dennis Conklin, Adam Boleman, Ryan Lindstrom, Hatch and a sacrifice bunt by Rogers, followed by a suicide squeeze bunt from Bryan Anderson.
North Branch closed to within 7-4 with a run in the bottom of the inning, but the Jacks regained the four-run edge in the top of the seventh when Austin Hatch scored on a straight steal of home.
Boleman and Hatch each had three hits, Conklin and Ellingson had two hits, while Hatch scored three times and Lindstrom scored twice.
Ellingson pitched five innings and gave up five hits, two earned runs, walked two and struck out four. Bryan Anderson earned the save with two scoreless innings of relief, while allowing two hits, one walk and fanning three.
"We looked like a team that hadn't been outside and made three errors in the first two innings, but settled down to play pretty good baseball after that," mentioned Jezierski. "Reid was outstanding for a first outing. He had command of all three pitches. Rick Stowell has done an unbelievable job with our pitchers and I don't think it was any more evident than to watch Bryan Anderson in his two innings of relief."
Despite not getting outside, the Jacks looked remarkably ready for a first game with no time on the field.
"The first win was earned by their work in the gym," commented Jezierski. "The guys worked hard in the gym and never got lazy."
Despite the win, Jezierski still feels there is plenty of room for improvement, especially on the defensive side of the game.
"We think we're going to be a very good defensive team, so I expect to play better defense in games two and three," mentioned Jezierski. "Another area we expect to look better this week is base running. We spend more time on base running than any team I've ever been associated with, but some kids reverted to the old habits against North Branch. We think we can take much better leads and run better from one base to the next."
Cloquet will play at home on Thursday against Greenway and on Friday at home against Ashland.
Pine Journal sports reporter Kerry Rodd can be contacted at: email@example.com .