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Lumberjacks stay alive in Section 7AA, to face Mora for title

Now there are two! Only Cloquet and Mora remain in the Section 7AA baseball playoffs following Tuesday's Final Four double-elimination format. Entering Tuesday's action, the Lumberjacks and Mora were the lone remaining unbeaten teams, while both ...

Now there are two! Only Cloquet and Mora remain in the Section 7AA baseball playoffs following Tuesday's Final Four double-elimination format.

Entering Tuesday's action, the Lumberjacks and Mora were the lone remaining unbeaten teams, while both Esko and Duluth Marshall had one loss each. In the battle of the unbeaten teams Mora managed to knock off the Jacks 1-0 in 12 innings.

In the game between the Eskomos and Hilltoppers it was Esko winning 4-1. Game three brought Cloquet and Esko together with the Lumberjacks coming away with a 3-0 victory. Cloquet will now have to beat Mora twice on Thursday at Wade Stadium to advance to the state tournament.

"I am extremely proud of the way our guys rebounded after the loss to Mora," said Cloquet coach Steve Jezierski. "I told the guys on the bus after the loss that the only way I wouldn't be proud of them is if they didn't come out to play against Esko and the guys responded by coming out and playing well."

In the 1-0 loss in 12 innings to Mora it was a pitcher's duel from the opening toss. Cloquet's Thomas Rogers and Ben Felland of Mora both pitched the entire way.

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"We had bases loaded twice in the game and we just couldn't deliver that key hit," explained Jezierski. "What can you ask of Rogers? He pitched 12 innings and gave up just one run and you can't ask for anything more."

Rogers, a sophomore, has been sensational all season and in the loss to Mora he was brilliant. In 12 innings Rogers allowed nine hits while throwing just 120 pitches. Meanwhile, Felland, a senior, allowed just five hits and struck out eight.

The end came when the Mustangs got a hit from number nine-hitter, Jordan Saunders, to score Ben Besser with the winning run.

"We played our typical game of good pitching and solid defense," Jezierski commented. "Give Mora credit that they played very well and Felland really stepped up and threw a very good game for them."

  • Cloquet then had to turn around and play Esko after the Eskomos had clawed their way to a 4-1 losers bracket victory over Duluth Marshall. Bryan Anderson, the Jacks' senior pitcher, allowed just two hits as Cloquet came away with a 3-0 win.

The Cloquet victory was not easy as Esko starter Dylan Anderson had a no-hitter entering the fifth inning.
"I told the guys that in 40 innings of playoff baseball our pitchers have pitched 38 scoreless innings and here we were sitting on the brink of elimination," he said. "I told the guys that it just [wasn't] right. The guys came out and put three runs up and we got some timely hitting from Jake Horn and Austin Hatch."

Horn and Hatch both had run-producing hits and Anderson was able to keep the Eskomos off the board the rest of the way. The win allows Cloquet to move into the finals against Mora on Thursday.

Lost in the shuffle of the tournament was the fact that three Cloquet players have been suspended from the team for violating Minnesota State High School League rules.

  • On Thursday the Lumberjacks defeated International Falls 8-0 and Duluth Marshall 5-3 in come-from-behind fashion in the second round of the tournament.

Against International Falls it was Rogers again who pitched a gem by tossing a four-hitter. The game turned as the Jacks played small ball and caused the Broncos to fumble the game away.
"Rogers pitched a whale of a game," stated Jezierski. "To be honest, we started laying down bunts and they just didn't seem to know what to do with the ball and that put us in an ideal situation."

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Adam Boleman whacked out three hits and scored twice, Hatch belted a pair of hits, scored twice and had three RBIs and Jon Becker had a triple and three RBIs.

Also aiding the Cloquet attack were Tyler Tollerud with a pair of hits and Matt Ellison who scored twice.

  • In the nightcap on Thursday the Lumberjacks had to scramble for three runs in the top of the seventh inning to win 5-2 over Duluth Marshall.

"Marshall played very well and we knew they'd be tough," mentioned Jezierski. "I think the key to the win was they brought their pitcher in to catch in the last inning ... we ended up bunting and they made a mistake, allowing us to get our offense going."
Scott Michela started on the mound for the Hilltoppers, but Michela is also the top catcher for Marshall. Once Matt Ellison made it to first in the top of the seventh inning, Marshall brought Michela back behind the plate in the hopes of stopping a possible steal. Instead, Adam Boleman laid a sacrifice bunt down that he beat out and then the first baseman threw to third trying to cut down Ellison who had kept running during the play. Nobody had covered third and the ball sailed up the foul line, allowing Ellison to score and the Jacks to start a three-run rally.

Becker was 2-for-2 with a double, Ellison was 2-for-3 and scored the game winning run. Bryan Anderson pitched a complete game six-hitter for the Jacks.

  • Last Wednesday the Lumberjacks opened section play with a 4-0 win over Aitkin as Thomas Jezierski fired a three-hitter and faced just four batters over the minimum in pitching his team to a win.

Tyler Tollerud aided the Jacks' offensive cause with a 2-for-3 effort.

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