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Baseball: Lumberjacks celebrate a fresh field

Senior Night at Ed Mettner Field in Cloquet on Thursday, May 11 was special in more ways than one.

The Lumberjacks honored 13 seniors between the varsity and junior varsity games, and fans got a chance to see many new renovations to the 14th Street complex, including a new scoreboard, new windscreen around the outfield fences, a new padded back stop, new dugout fencing and a brand-new sound system, new clay home plate area and a clay mound for the pitchers.

"Nate Knutson has done a great job at fundraising and taking care of the park," said Cloquet

baseball coach Tyler Olin. "The park looks great and he does a great job as the game manager

for our team."

The evening consisted of a number of community members/donors who threw out the first pitch as a way of saying "thank you" for their support of the Lumberjacks baseball program. Included in the first pitch toss were Cloquet mayor Roger Maki and representatives of Truss Financial, Michaud Distributing/Chippewa Water and Northwoods Credit Union.

The special evening for parents and players was put together by Knutson, who serves as game day manager and is also the VFW baseball coach in the summer. Knutson has also been instrumental in the improvements at the park.

"The park was in need of some attention, and as a community member it was the right thing to

do," said Knutson.

About the only thing that didn't work out on Thursday was a win for the 'Jacks, as they fell 8-4 to

the Hibbing Bluejackets.

"The atmosphere for the game was great, but we just got off to a slow start and got down early,"

said Olin. "We have to stay away from the walks. Our defense as a whole has been solid, but to win games you can't have too many walks, and that's one thing we've struggled with."

Cloquet gave up two runs in the second, single runs in the third and fourth inning, and trailed 4-0.

However, a big comeback in the bottom of the fifth inning by the 'Jacks knotted things up at 4-4

on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the Bluejackets responded with a four-run rally in the top of

sixth inning to go up 8-4, and that put the game away.

Ashton Stansfield led the 'Jacks with four hits and a pair of runs batted in, while Alex Omenge also had two runs batted in and Kollin Bonneville added a pair of hits.

"All of these games give us a chance to see who can pitch and who can play what positions," Olin said. "Our focus is on developing pitching depth and getting guys into the right positions for

when the playoffs come."

The Lumberjacks followed Thursday's loss with a 3-1 loss to North Branch and a 13-5 loss on Saturday to Chisago Lakes, which dropped their record to 4-9.

"We'd like to see more wins, but we need to let guys pitch, so we can see who can really pitch in a game situation," Olin said. "It would be nice to win more games and to have a higher seed, but you have to have depth on the pitching mound, and the only way to do that is to get guys out there, and see what they can do."

The Lumberjacks are in the busiest part of their schedule with three more games upcoming and playoffs looming on the horizon.

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