ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Young Eskomos baseball regroup for future

Esko's baseball team may have fallen in the first round of the section playoffs, but the 11-9 season they just finished will hopefully lead to a brighter future.

Esko's baseball team may have fallen in the first round of the section playoffs, but the 11-9 season they just finished will hopefully lead to a brighter future.

Moose Lake-Willow River defeated the Eskomos 17-1 in their first playoff game but a good group of young players return for next season.

"We gave some playing time to younger guys even though we had six seniors," coach Ben Haugen said. We have gaps that you have to fill every year, but we played sophomores and even a freshman (Ryan Holte, who caught about one-third of Esko's games this spring)."

The 17-1 playoff game was not atypical for the Eskomos' season. Esko won and lost numerous games by big scores.

"Our one vice was pitching," Haugen said. "We didn't have consistent pitching. When we got it, we were in ball games, but we walked five in the first inning against Moose Lake-Willow River (in the playoffs) and it got away from us."

ADVERTISEMENT

The focus this summer will be the Legion team coached by Tom Zbacnik that is trying to return to state, and a VFW team that has a full roster.

"We have full teams at both levels, with about 25 kids signed up," Haugen said. "In the past, Esko hasn't been a baseball school, but it is kind of starting to be."

When trying to build program depth, Haugen notes that playing time is naturally essential.

"Playing Polar League teams, sometimes you don't get a JV game so the younger kids get slighted in terms of playing time," he said. "This summer, the kids get the innings they need, we can play Hermantown and Cloquet and East and Proctor and maybe some teams you wouldn't be able to play in the spring season."

The Legion team will be bolstered by the return of college freshman Matt Tengesdal, who helped spark the unit to state last summer.

"It'll be great to have Matt back with us," Haugen said. "We know there are a lot of things going on like hockey camps and basketball camps, jobs and summer league things, but we ask that the kids give baseball a bit of their time too."

Meanwhile, Haugen has taken some valuable lessons from the spring season.

"We need to spend time focusing on pitching in the spring," he said. "I need to look ahead with potential pitchers and make sure they get the work they need. Yet the kids worked very hard, they love the game, and the seniors leaving our program all love the game and are playing this summer. It's sad to see them go but they have done a great job."

Related Topics: BASEBALLESKO
What To Read Next
Cloquet High School grad Aidan Ripp was one of six student-athletes competing for Team USA in the Nordic Combined event at the 2023 FISU World University Games in Lake Placid, New York.
Peterson’s unassisted goal lifts Springfield to the NAHL home win.
Thoreson’s third-period goal is the difference as Posch is tough in net for Minnesota.
Kevin Marx Noren's third-period goal decided it.