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Prep baseball: Eight-run inning lifts Superior over Cloquet

The Spartans erased a four-run deficit en route to their first victory under new head coach Ryan Hendry.

Cloquet’s Noah Knutson (20) tags out Superior’s Tristan Brennan (3) as he tries to steal second base
Cloquet’s Noah Knutson (20) tags out Superior’s Tristan Brennan (3) as he tries to steal second base in the third inning of the game Tuesday afternoon, April 19, 2022, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — After trailing by four runs with their proverbial backs against the wall, the Spartans erupted for eight runs in the fifth inning to defeat Cloquet 9-6 in their season-opener Tuesday, April 19 at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.

The come-from-behind triumph marks the first win under first-year coach and 2003 Superior grad Ryan Hendry.

“It feels great. I mean obviously I knew what I had walking into this year as far as the senior leadership, and basically returning mostly all of our guys from last year, but to get that first one means the world,” Hendry said.

Ellsworth Community College commit George Hansen earned the win on the hill after delivering a scoreless fifth inning complete with a pair of strikeouts.

In total, Superior saw seven different pitchers take the mound in the contest, while Cloquet featured five.

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Cloquet’s Marshall Hayes (27) delivers a pitch
Cloquet’s Marshall Hayes (27) delivers a pitch in the fourth inning of the Lumberjacks game Tuesday afternoon, April 19, 2022, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Kade Kolodge was the first one on the bump for the Lumberjacks, where he collected three strikeouts over two innings pitched. A fielding error in the latter half of the second inning brought Hansen home for the game’s first run in a 1-0 game.

After being held without a hit their first two times to the plate, the ‘Jacks responded by posting crooked numbers in the third and fourth frames behind extra-base hits from Mason Anderson and Noah Knutson to give Cloquet a 5-1 lead through four complete.

The team’s approach at the plate was one of the biggest positives Cloquet coach Tyler Olin gleaned from the team’s performance, while fielding and pitching remain two areas the team will look to shore up in upcoming games.

Superior catcher Carter Kalin (14) tries to drop a tag on Cloquet’s Noah Knutson (20) as he slides safely into home
Superior catcher Carter Kalin (14) tries to drop a tag on Cloquet’s Noah Knutson (20) as he slides safely into home in the fourth inning of the game Tuesday afternoon, April 19, 2022, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“We’ve got things that we can improve on, but it’s game one, anybody can say that,” Olin said. “We were throwing a lot of guys out there (on the mound) and seeing who’s going to step up. We don’t want to win today, we want to win in the playoffs, so that’s the goal (to) get better by then.”

Brady Anderson was handed the ball to start the fifth inning looking to protect the four-run lead, but ran into trouble with control, loading the bases with three consecutive walks. The Spartans went on to score two of their eight runs in the inning off bases-loaded walks by Nathan Maki and Kell Piggott, which prompted a pitching change with Alexander Yrjanson taking over in relief.

Superior’s Mason Stenberg (18) runs through first base as the ball gets away from Cloquet’s Mason Anderson (33)
Superior’s Mason Stenberg (18) runs through first base as the ball gets away from Cloquet’s Mason Anderson (33) in the third inning of the game Tuesday afternoon, April 19, 2022, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

With the bases still loaded, Carter Kalin drove in the game-tying run with an RBI single before Tristan Brennan notched his game-high third hit to bring in three more runs. Abraham Hirvela drove home the ninth run with the team’s third hit of the inning.

The explosive eight-run inning came after a sluggish start at the plate, according to Hendry.

“I’ll be honest, initially, they looked a little timid, and I think they were nervous for whatever reason, but they responded well … We were down four runs and we put a couple balls in play and they helped us out a little bit,” Hendry said.

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Cloquet’s Mason Anderson (33) kicks up beads from the turf as he slides headfirst into third base with a base-clearing triple
Cloquet’s Mason Anderson (33) kicks up beads from the turf as he slides headfirst into third base with a base-clearing triple in the third inning of the game Tuesday afternoon, April 19, 2022, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Jaedyn Novy provided Cloquet’s sixth and final run in the top half of the seventh inning before Superior secured the final out to win 9-6.

Superior (1-0) will be back at its home field Thursday, April 21 for a rescheduled game against Duluth East. Cloquet (0-1) will look to rebound in its next game against East at home, Monday, April 26.

Superior’s Hayden Smith (12) fires a pitch
Superior’s Hayden Smith (12) fires a pitch in the fourth inning of the Spartans game with Cloquet Tuesday afternoon, April 19, 2022, at the NBC Spartan Sports Complex in Superior.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Jake Przytarski is a reporter for the Cloquet Pine Journal covering a mix of news and sports.
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