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Baseball: Local athletes named to All-State teams

Tim Pokornowski of Cloquet and Brody Kaldahl of Esko were named to the All-State Baseball North Team. Submitted photo

Postseason accolades continue to stream in for local high school baseball players.

Cloquet's Tim Pokornowski was named to the Class AAA All-State Team last week and he was selected to play in the Minnesota All-Star Series on the North Team.

Joining Pokornowski on the North Team was Esko pitcher and shortstop Brody Kaldahl.

Kaldahl and Tyler Peterson, also of Esko, were named to the Class AA All-State Team, while Cloquet's Cooper Grasshorn was named Academic All-State last week.

Esko had three players named Academic All-State: Kaldahl, Peterson and Ryan Nelson.

Pokornowski has had a Cinderella-type senior year, where he led his Cloquet Lumberjack football team to the state championship game, then helped lead his basketball team to a sectional final game and now has capped off his senior year with an All-State honor as well as being named to the All-Star Series North Team.

"Tim is very athletic and excelled in all three sports he played," Cloquet baseball coach Rick Norrgard said. "His centerfield play is as good as I have seen. He reads the ball well off the bat and covers a lot of ground. At the plate, he really started to hit the ball well toward the end of the year and through the playoffs, he put the team on his back offensively."

Pokornowski had a solid showing in Chaska for the all-star game by going 3-for-6 in the three games and had a chance to see some of the state's top pitching.

"It was a lot of fun and I met some guys who are going to UMD as well so that was pretty cool," Pokornowski said. "It is a huge honor to play in the series because guys like Joe Mauer, Glen Perkins and Kent Hrbek all played in the series and I could've been playing with some future Major League stars."

According to Pokornowski, the pitching was a great experience with many pitchers hitting in the upper 80s and low 90s all weekend, as well as having the ability to throw great off-speed pitches.

Meanwhile, Kaldahl was also on the North Team as well as the Class AAA State Team with Peterson.

"We were fortunate to have a great group of guys who were led by a great group of seniors," Esko coach Ben Haugen said. "Brody had a fantastic senior season and it was a well-deserved honor in making the All-Star Series. He was an all-around leader for us this year at the plate, on the mound and in the field."

The same could be said for any number of Eskomos who had great seasons, including their catcher Peterson.

"Tyler had an unreal junior season so it was hard to replicate that," Haugen said. "He made big improvements defensively as a catcher this year and he is a hard working kid."

Haugen has had three players named to the All-Star Series in his tenure: Kyle Hall in 2007, Nick Emanuel in 2016 and now Kaldahl.

Amazingly, the Eskomos also had three players named Academic All-State, as Ryan Nelson joined both Kaldahl and Peterson in that group. Academic All-State players are given the award based on a combination of academics and play on the field.

"All three have been staples on the varsity team the last three seasons," Haugen said. "This senior group has helped redefine what baseball is at Esko. A commitment to baseball, hard work and a love for the game has helped them with their successes."

As a team, the Eskomos reached Gold Division Academic All-State, which essentially means that as a group, Esko was one of only 12 schools in Class AA to reach the highest status in academics and play.

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