Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Runner-up Rebels fight to finish

 

Al Rose

The Rebels proudly pose with their Section 7AA runner-up trophy June 2 in Cloquet.

The Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels fought to the finish in the Section 7AA finals and ended up proudly possessing the runner-up trophy. MLWR left it all on the field before getting nipped by a trio of singles in the seventh inning to be edged 8-7 by the 16-5 Esko Eskomos. MLWR ended with an excellent 20-6 record. The must-win two games situation MLWR faced was played at Cloquet's Braun Park on Thursday, June 2.

The 2016 Rebels equaled a runner-up finish that was accomplished by a Class AA MLWR squad 20 years ago in 1996. The Moose Lake Lady Lakers were Class A State Champions in 1981 and 1982.

Jamie Benzie led the Rebels with a double and two RBI singles. Lauren Pederson had a double and sprinted out two infield hits. Pederson had two of the Rebels four steals. Suzy Grutkoski had two RBI singles. Bode had an RBI single. Marissa Mikrot had a single.

The game started by Pederson sprinting out an infield hit and Mikrot walking with Dallis Kukuk courtesy running, but they were stranded.

Esko got a run in the bottom of the first with a double-turned-triple on an outfield error. Two walks loaded the bases and a fielder's choice was 1-0 before Esko stranded two.

The Rebels were retired 1-2-3 in the top of the second. Esko got a single in the bottom of the second, but stranded the runner.

Jamie Benzie doubled to center. Grutkoski was rung out on a shin high pitch. Bode drove a single off the pitcher's glove that trickled into shallow left. Bode got the RBI as Benzie raced for home, did a dodge around a block and potential tag by the catcher and came back to casually step on the plate as the throw ended up being errant for 1-1. Pederson raced and reached on a fielder's choice as Esko spent too much time looking Bode back, but they were both stranded.

Bode hit a batter and a wild pitch and a sacrifice bunt moved the runner to third. A pitch squirted away and the relay back to Bode was low and late for 2-1. Bode walked her third and a double to the alley made it runners on second and third, but Bode got her second one looking and a pop to Grutkoski stranded two.

The Rebels put together a two-out rally to take the lead in the top of the fourth. Gerard reached on an error by the shortstop and a throw down to first was an error on the catcher. Lefty Jamie Benzie went the opposite way and the RBI single tied it up at 2-2 and she alertly took second on the late throw home. Grutkoski spanked a single up the middle for 3-2 before Bode's peppered grounder was handled at first.

Esko also put together a two-out rally. With two runners aboard after Bode's fourth walk and a lefty going the opposite way for a single, Wilson drilled a two-RBI double to dead center for 4-3. An errant throw from short made it 5-3 and a steal and scorched double past third took it to 6-3 before the Rebels exited the inning.

Pederson smoked a double off the third base bag. Mikrot singled to center, but Pederson was red-lighted at third. Kukuk courtesy ran for Mikrot. Esko gambled to throw down on Kukuk's steal and it was not held and Pederson trotted in for 6-4. Josie Benzie's grounder got Kukuk to third. Although Paull fanned, Kukuk scored on a wild pitch as Newham walked. Gerard also walked and Jamie Benzie singled for an RBI. On that play the runner coming home paused and it appeared to be trouble, but the ball got away for 6-6. Grutkoski ripped an RBI off the pitcher's glove for 7-6 before Bode softly lined to first.

The Rebels set the Eskomos down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fifth. Pederson ran out her second infield hit of the day, but was out on a close call while stealing and Esko soon exited the inning.

Paull made a good play to pin down a hard grounder and gunned to first. An infield hit plopped in over Bode and in front of Grutkoski and a steal followed, but Bode notched her third called strikeout and Gerard used both hands to secure a fairly deep fly to left center.

Paull rapped back to the circle and Newham hit a long fly to center. Gerard reached on Esko's shortstop's second error, but was stranded and MLWR clung to a one run 7-6 lead.

A seeing-eye single fell into shallow left and a steal followed. A hard grounder to second moved the runner to third. A sharp single through the left side tied it up at 7-7 and Bode walked her fifth. A walk-off RBI single was ripped into left and Esko escaped with the 8-7 win.

The 2017 Rebels will return as an extremely experienced and now very battled-tested team as only Jessica Paull at third and injured reserve catcher and captain Morgan Prachar graduate. Bode will likely have five miles an hour or more back on her fastball.

 

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