Cloquet edged out of playoffs, Carlton advances to finals
In the midst of a scoreless pitchers' duel on Tuesday, Cloquet made an error on a potential double-play ball in the top of the seventh inning and eventually lost 2-0 to Hermantown in the Section 7AA semifinals, then later fell 7-4 to Internationa...
In the midst of a scoreless pitchers' duel on Tuesday, Cloquet made an error on a potential double-play ball in the top of the seventh inning and eventually lost 2-0 to Hermantown in the Section 7AA semifinals, then later fell 7-4 to International Falls in an elimination game Tuesday night at Al Nyberg Field in Hibbing.
In game one, Hawks' hurler Kevin Folman threw a two-hit shutout and struck out nine to outduel Cloquet ace Brandon Conklin. Lumberjacks Coach Rick Norrgard said the difficult loss led into their season-ending defeat to the Broncos, a team they waxed 11-1 in five innings last Thursday. Cloquet finished the season 12-8.
"Things for sure carried over," Norrgard said. "That Hermantown loss was tough and it was hard for us to get going again. It's not easy to bounce back. We started to, but just came up a little short."
Cloquet senior shortstop Kaleb Kadelbach said they were disappointed losing both games against teams they have already beaten, including Hermantown 5-4 on May 11.
"It was difficult," Kadelbach said. "We just didn't play our greatest baseball. I guess that's just how the cookie crumbles."
Middle infielder Eric Peterson was equally saddened, but the senior second baseman kept his varsity experiences in perspective since his beginning in eighth grade.
"These have been the best five years of baseball I could have ever asked for," Peterson said. "We have a lot of younger kids that will be fun to watch. It'll be tough to keep the Lumberjacks out of the state baseball tournament in the future."
The future is now for Carlton (14-5), as the Bulldogs enter the Section 7A championship game with Polar League rival Floodwood at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 6, at Hermantown's Don Fichtner Field. Because they are working their way back through the loser's bracket, a second game will be played afterward if Carlton wins the first. If they win, they advance; if they lose, they're out.
The Bulldogs bagged wins over Duluth Marshall 1-0 and Chisholm 12-2 in five innings Tuesday in Hermantown to make their way back through the loser's bracket to face the Polar Bears.
"Survive and advance," said Carlton Coach Ryan Schmidt. "We're doing the little things, stepping up and these six seniors made the decision that they didn't want to be done yet."
Two of those seniors secured wins Tuesday, as Zach Veno shut out the Hilltoppers, while Kyle Gunderson scored the game's only run in the fourth inning, and later pitched in the 12-2 win over the Bluestreaks.
"The past couple years we haven't done well at playoff time," Gunderson said. "This year, we've had some unfinished business."
Barnum, meanwhile, opened the Section 7A tournament with a 7-6 win over South Ridge last Wednesday. Zach Carlson and Seth Vogt shared pitching duties while Carlson added three RBIs to help his cause. However, Barnum fell 9-1 to Floodwood later that day to send them to the loser's bracket. In Friday's playoff action, Barnum topped Littlefork-Big Falls 6-5 but then fell to Duluth Marshall 3-2 to end their season.
Barnum Coach Tony Bender said he'll be at the section finals. "I think I'll go watch," Bender said. "Floodwood is tough, but Carlton is hot. If they win the first one, anything is possible."
During regular season play, Floodwood (16-2) shut out Carlton 8-0 in late May in the team's only meeting.