'Jacks rebound but can't clear Rapids


June 9, 2023

After a first-round loss to Grand Rapids last week in the Section 7AAA boys baseball tournament, the Lumberjacks responded by pounding out wins last week over Hibbing and Duluth Denfeld. On Tuesday, Cloquet kept things rolling by beating North Branch before being ousted from the tournament in a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to the same team that beat them in the opener: the Thunderhawks.

"I am proud of the way these guys battled," said Cloquet coach Tyler Olin.

On Tuesday, the 'Jacks opened the day - in their third elimination game of the tournament - by parlaying a big third inning into a 6-1 win, thus eliminating North Branch. Ashton Stansfield pitched a solid game for Cloquet as he gave up just four hits during his six innings of work to pick up the win.

"Ashton had a great performance for us on the mound," said Olin. "He has been very efficient and he just got better every game he pitched for us this season."

The win advanced Cloquet into the semifinals against the same team that put them in the losers bracket - Grand Rapids - and for the second straight game, the 'Jacks lost by one run in the 2-1 game.

Much like Stansfield did against North Branch, Aidan Sievert was strong on the mound for Cloquet.

"Aidan kept us in the game and gave us a chance to win," said Olin. "We just couldn't find that big hit at the right time."

Cloquet had the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, but were unable to push a run across to tie the game. The Thunderhawks second baseman made a game-saving catch on the final out as the ball nearly dropped into the outfield off the bat of Brody Dushkin.

"I honestly thought that ball was down," Olin said. "The second baseman made a nice play, and that's how baseball goes. We needed a break, and didn't quite get it."

In Thursday's elimination game against Hibbing, the Lumberjacks got a stellar pitching effort from Stansfield, who tossed a five-inning no-hitter in helping Cloquet secure a 13-0 win.

"That was just another impressive pitching performance," Olin said of Stansfield's no-hitter.

Offensively, the Lumberjacks got big games from Kollin Bonneville, who had a double and also scored three runs. Alex Omenge also had a big game, with a triple and three RBIs. Cloquet bashed out seven hits in the win.

On Saturday, the Lumberjacks stayed alive in the elimination bracket by downing Denfeld 2-1 despite being outhit 7-4 by the Hunters. Brady Anderson pitched all seven innings for Cloquet and picked up the win.

"Just like Aidan and Ashton, Brady pitched a great game for us," said Olin. "Pitching is the name of the game and our entire group of pitchers took another step forward this season."

The loss to Grand Rapids ends the season and careers for 13 Lumberjacks who are graduating this year.

"I'm proud of what the whole team has done and very proud of the seniors," Olin said. "I am proud of how they kind of put us back on the map, and they showed the younger guys what it takes to compete and never give up. Hopefully, those lessons are things [they] will learn from, and use to get even better."

The Lumberjacks finished the season with a 11-15 record.


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