Just two weeks ago, the Esko baseball team topped Mora 11-7 in a victory that was a part of a several-game winning streak for the Eskomos.
Only 11 days later, the Mustangs delivered the favor.
Mora made their way past Esko in come-from-behind fashion when scoring five runs in the fifth inning to spin a once early deficit into a 7-5 Section 7AA win Tuesday, May 28, at Minnesota Duluth's Bulldog Park.
While the Eskomos were up 3-0 after three innings, the Mustangs mustered two runs in the fourth and had their big inning after that, taking advantage defensively on Esko base running miscues and offensively on the Eskomos' four fielding errors.
Once trailing, Esko never regained their lead.
"In the playoffs, the little things get amplified," Eskomos coach Ben Haugen said. "When you play good, quality teams and you don't make those plays, it'll come back to haunt you.
"We has a couple mental lapses," he continued. "Against a good team like that, that'll be your demise. And, that's what happened to us."
The team's top hitter, James LeGarde, agreed, as the junior catcher with a handful of home runs this spring, finished his on Tuesday with just one hit in seven at-bats, also including a 14-2 victory vs. Rush City earlier that morning.
"It was a rough day at the plate," LeGarde said.
Esko's winning pitcher Tuesday was junior Hunter Sunde, while their losing hurler was senior Peyton Koskela.
The Eskomos (14-7) sit in the losers bracket, next to play Virginia (12-6) on Thursday, May 30, at a time and venue still to be determined at press time. Section semifinals and finals are June 4 and 6.
"We have to win like six in a row to go to the state tournament - that makes it really tough," said Haugen, his team a section finalist last June. "We're not looking for a pity party. We're as deep as anybody. I don't think there is any doubt, we can come back."
"People have been doubting us all year long," LeGarde said. "This team, if any, can do it. We just want to play more baseball anyways."
Meanwhile, Esko's next opponent, the Blue Devils, downed Barnum 10-0 in a shortened five innings at Hibbing on Tuesday. Virginia pitcher Jack Perala allowed no hits in striking out all 10 Bombers batters he faced. Barnum finished the year 7-7.
Rebels still kicking in loser's bracket
Over in Proctor on Tuesday, Moose Lake-Willow River rattled off seven runs in the top of the first inning to down Crosby-Ironton 12-6 in backing winning pitcher Danny Whited, as the senior struck out eight in his five innings of work.
Whited was also 3-for-3 at the plate.
"He was extremely productive," Rebels coach Spencer Clough said.
Speaking of productivity, Duluth Marshall tops the list, as the section's defending champs and one of the state's top clubs - regardless of class - mashed ML-WR 19-1 in five innings Tuesday night in Proctor.
"They looked like the No. 1 team in the state tonight against us," Clough said. "They scored 19 runs, and I don't think any of their hits were soft. It was like missiles going left and right."
That said, the Rebels (9-12) are still alive in the losers bracket, set to play Eveleth-Gilbert (14-3) on Thursday, May 30, at a time and venue still to be determined at press time.
"Marshall gave us a good lickin'," Clough said, "but the season's not over. The sun will come up."