Mora crushes Cloquet's hopes in baseball final

Starting pitcher Jake Oslin was sitting in the dugout during Mora's baseball game against Cloquet on Thursday when assistant Curt Gracheck approached him with a simple message: Start throwing.

Section 7AA baseball
Mora defeated Cloquet 11-0 in the Section 7AA high school baseball championship Thursday.

Starting pitcher Jake Oslin was sitting in the dugout during Mora's baseball game against Cloquet on Thursday when assistant Curt Gracheck approached him with a simple message: Start throwing.

Oslin needed to stay loose as he waited out the deciding fourth inning of the Mustangs' 11-0 victory in the Section 7AA title game before about 150 fans in Hermantown. Mora (21-4) scored all of its 11 runs in the inning as the Mustangs advanced to their fourth state baseball tournament and third in the past four years. Oslin allowed two hits in the fifth inning but got three flyouts to end the game via the 10-run rule. He finished with a four-hitter.

"I had to keep the arm loose," Oslin said. "For a while I didn't know if that inning was going to end or not."

That's how Cloquet felt, too.

The Lumberjacks (16-10) were seeking payback after getting knocked out by Mora in last year's section tournament after two one-run, extra-inning losses. Mora also beat Cloquet 6-5 in the winners' bracket of this year's double-elimination tournament, meaning the Lumberjacks would have to beat Mora twice on Thursday to advance to their first state tournament since 1975.


Cloquet standout Thomas Rogers was ready to pitch on one day of rest if the Lumberjacks won the first game.

"Mora is the better team, and I don't have any problem saying that," said Cloquet coach Steve Jezierski. "They get a runner on, they find the gap. We get a runner on, we hit a little nubber somewhere, and that's the difference in the teams.

"I told the boys, 'We have to beat them in Game 1, but they're going to have to beat us in Game 2,' but it never got to that. They made sure of that."

Cloquet starter Thomas Jezierski didn't allow a hit through three innings before Mora senior Joe Cannon led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. The Lumberjacks then misplayed a fielder's choice and bunt, and the rout was on as all but one batter in the Mustangs' order got a hit in the inning.

Mora could contend for a state title after going 1-6 in their previous three trips. The Mustangs open play in the Class AA quarterfinals on June 11 in St. Cloud.

"This will be the strongest team we've brought to St. Cloud, and I think we're no longer happy just getting there," Mora coach Jay Pautzke said.

It was an emotional ending for the Jezierskis. Thomas Jezierski, one of three Cloquet seniors including shortstop Dennis Conklin and outfielder Dedric Clark, is Steve's only son.

"It's not just about Thomas, because I've been coaching all three since Day 1," Steve Jezierski said. "They've grown up around me, and that's what makes this so tough. They're not just ballplayers to me. They're like sons."


Chisholm 9, Cook County 5

Chisholm rallied from a two-run deficit with three runs in the fifth inning and three in the sixth to defeat Cook County in the Section 7A title game in Hibbing.

Erik Paine and Ryan Ferrell each had two hits and Brad Pervenanze drove in two runs for Chisholm (18-3). Ferrell was the winning pitcher, entering the game in the second inning. Casey Everson had two hits and scored two runs for Cook County.

Chisholm faces Wabasha-Kellogg in the first round of the Minnesota Class A tournament at 10 a.m. on June 11 in Chaska.

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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