Esko Legion teams hit stride
July 21, 2023
The Esko Legion and Junior Legion baseball teams got off to a slow start this summer, but they had an excellent excuse.
"We missed the first 10 days of the season because of the long run to the state championship by the high school team," said Nick Legarde, head coach of both the Legion and Junior Legion teams.
"For Legion, we've only played nine games so far and normally we'd be at around 15-18 games," he saidd.
Esko Legion is 6-3 thus far and opened play in the Northeast District 2 playoffs on Saturday in Proctor with a pair of games.
"We beat Barnum/Moose Lake/Willow River, 3-2, in an exciting game," Legarde said. "We ended up scoring two runs when the ball got thrown away in a rundown."
Jackson Peterson pitched 6 1/3 innings and Conner Pearce got the final two outs on the mound for Esko in the win.
Dylan Marciulionis pitched well in the second game against Proctor, but Esko was unable to put many runs on the board offensively and fell 4-3.
"We've been scoring a lot of runs this summer, but in the playoffs if you only can score three runs you will be in trouble, and we found that out," Legarde said.
If Esko Legion was going to make a state run they needed to win six straight games starting with a Tuesday game in Proctor. They were off to a good start after defeating the Proctor team 6-0.
"We've got the arms to make that kind of a run," Legarde said. "Summer ball is tough because you have a lot of makeshift lineups, because guys are missing for summer vacations and for work stuff."
Junior Legion is ages 15 and 16 and is much the same as VFW baseball.
"We have a lot of young kids, and many of those that play Junior Legion are double-rostered and are playing on both," Legarde said. "We are very deep in talent, and a lot of guys on these two teams would start elsewhere."
The Junior Legion team will open district play on July 25 in Ely.
"We've only had two practices for both Legion and Junior Legion so far this summer," Legarde said. "Because we got started late, and the Fourth of July fell in the middle of the week, it really put us in a tough situation, but the guys are playing a lot of ball, and getting a lot of at-bats and defensive looks in this summer."