Louie St. George: Local baseball teams embrace dog days of summerThere’s still baseball to be played this season, and local teams have entered, or will soon enter, their respective post-seasons. Plus: "random rumblings."
By: Louie St. George, Budgeteer News
The dog days of summer are upon us. It remains hot and sticky — sometimes unbearably so — but our daylight is gradually being siphoned away.
While August reminds us that fall is briskly approaching, it’s not here yet. There’s still baseball to be played, and local teams have entered, or will soon enter, their respective post-seasons. Thus, it’s a good time for a brief rundown of the area’s baseball landscape:
Proctor VFW competes at state
Proctor, led by second-year coach Sand Jokela, headed south to Austin on Wednesday for the VFW state tournament. It’s the team’s second consecutive trip to state and caps an ultra-successful summer.
Proctor entered the state tournament with a record of 25-11, including a red-hot 10-2 stretch that catapulted the team to the District 8 championship — secured via a nine-inning, 11-10 victory over Duluth East. The same two clubs met in the sub-district final a week earlier, where Proctor overcame a 9-2 deficit en route to a 12-10 triumph.
Proctor, which entered the summer with 10 returning players from 2009, survived a daunting schedule to get to Austin. Locally, Cloquet, Hermantown and two teams from East forged a competitive sub-district. And an early July trip to Alexandria, where Proctor jump-started the second half of its season by capturing the consolation title, was rife with talented opponents.
Jokela credited the Alexandria tournament with giving his veteran squad a much-needed boost. It couldn’t have come at a better time, as Proctor found its groove with the playoffs less than two weeks away.
“That’s why I wanted to find a good tournament,” Jokela said. “I asked all the area coaches, and I don’t even know how, but the VFW coach in Alexandria got my e-mail. … He told me what teams were going to be there — there were some really talented teams. It was perfect timing. I figured it would be good to see where we were at with other competition around the state, so it was perfect timing.”
• Duluth Lakeview was eliminated from the Minnesota Division I American Legion state tournament July 30. Lakeview, which went 2-2 at the tournament, saw its season end in a 15-2 loss to North St. Paul. The team finished with a 25-8 record.
• The Duluth Huskies are trying to return to the post-season for the first time since 2007. The Huskies, who had a 12-10 second-half mark going into their game Tuesday at St. Cloud, were 17-14 in the first half. They finished a game and a half back of division-leading Rochester.
Casey Lytle, Jeff Reynolds, Zeke DeVoss and Cody Asche have provided much of the offensive firepower. Lytle was hitting .350 after Monday’s doubleheader split with Alexandria, while Reynolds was at .318. DeVoss boasted a .311 average with three home runs, and Asche, the Huskies’ big bopper, had tallied eight homers to go along with 59 RBIs and a .310 average.
After another strong outing Monday, left-hander Robbie Collier was 6-1 on the mound with a minuscule 1.97 ERA.
Making their playoff push, the Huskies play the bulk of their remaining schedule at the friendly confines of Wade Stadium, where they have averaged more than 1,000 fans a night. They conclude the regular season Aug. 15-16 in Brainerd.
Before hitting an early-week speed bump in Tampa Bay, the Twins were riding another second-half resurgence. Between the All-Star break and their four-game series against the Rays, the Twins went 13-4 in pursuit of the Chicago White Sox, who reside atop the American League Central.
St. Paul’s David Thompson won his fourth consecutive Brewhouse Triathlon last weekend at the Pike Lake Auto Club. Thompson finished with a time of 1 hour, 33 minutes, 33 seconds — the fourth straight year he has set a course record as well.
Aug. 16 is the first day of practice for high school fall sports.
Boy, last week’s column on Brett Favre’s inevitable return to the Vikings backfired. Maybe he was reading and wanted to prove me wrong.
That’s probably not it. Regardless, Favre — allegedly, maybe, probably — is retiring. At least for the time being.
Duluth sportswriter Louie St. George last wrote about Brett Favre for the Duluth Budgeteer News. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.