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'Jacks lose at State, but return with great memories

Even though the Cloquet baseball team didn't win the state title like they wanted to, coach Rick Stowell said the boys loved every minute of last weekend's state tournament.

Cloquet seniors
Cloquet seniors (from left) Kyle Becker, Jacob Horn, Corbin Morse, Connor Stowell, Peter LaCourse, August Reynolds, Tyler Tollerud, Thomas Rogers and team manager Tyler Demenge take a moment to absorb the experience of being in the state tournament. Contributed Photo

Even though the Cloquet baseball team didn't win the state title like they wanted to, coach Rick Stowell said the boys loved every minute of last weekend's state tournament.

So did the community.

"That was one heck of a Cloquet turnout," recalled Stowell about the sea of purple he saw in the stands in St. Cloud. "It was an amazing experience and we appreciated all of the wonderful support."

Cloquet opened the dance with a disappointing 5-3 loss to a Mankato East club that, according to Stowell, wasn't any better than his boys.

"I think we were better than them," said Stowell. "Before, we said that we didn't want their 3, 4, 5 hitters - who had 18 total home runs on the season - to beat us. Unfortunately, they did so."

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Despite not having a single base runner until the fourth inning, the Lumberjacks outhit the Cougars 8-5, yet Mankato East's two home runs proved to be the difference in the quarterfinal matchup.

"We out-hit them, but they out-powered us," said Stowell. "When you hit home runs like they did, it's pretty easy to score runs."

After the tough loss, Cloquet moved to the consolation round to face Saint Anthony Village. However, the game was postponed to Friday due to inclement weather, and the 'Jacks were told, win or lose the following day, they'd be done.

Friday's final game for Cloquet came, and Stowell made it worthwhile for everyone in the dugout.

"We played all 18 guys and threw our final three pitchers," said Stowell. "We knew, win or lose, it was our last game, so we wanted to make a good time for the kids."

The 'Jacks fell 8-3 to the Huskies.

Cloquet was paced by a quartet of seniors - Peter LaCourse, Tyler Tollerud, Connor Stowell and Thomas Rogers, who all four collected a pair of hits on the weekend and knocked in all of the Lumberjacks' six runs.

Saturday, instead of heading back north, Cloquet traveled to Target Field to watch the state championships.

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"That was fun," said Stowell. "We were just as good as those two teams in the Class AA finals, but that's OK. We didn't win it all like we wanted to, but to go down there and represent this community for the first time in 35 years was a good feeling."

The 'Jacks were the only team at state which sported four pitchers with at least four wins apiece; they also had 10 hitters with at least 10 runs batted in. And, for the record, Cloquet recorded 260 hits and tallied 201 runs in fewer than three months. Their final record on the diamond was 20-9.

Stowell knows his boys won't be forgotten for a long time - if ever.

"It's been a long season, but it's been well worth it," continued Stowell. "These kids loved every minute of this experience."

Tyler Tollerud
Cloquet senior Tyler Tollerud bats for the Lumberjacks in Thursday's game against Mankato East in the opening round of the 2010 Minnesota State High School Baseball Tournament. The 'Jacks fell 5-3 to the Cougars, which put them in the consolation round, but they dropped an 8-3 decision to the Saint Anthony Village Huskies. Contributed Photo

Related Topics: BASEBALLCLOQUET
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