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Rivals 'take some lumps' in the opening games

Nick Perfetto makes the delivery to home plate during a Lake Superior Rivals game in 2016. (News-Chronicle file photo)1 / 2
Lake Superior Rivals third baseman Trey Fleck applies the tag to a Moose Lake player in a game last summer. (News-Chronicle file photo)2 / 2

The Lake Superior Rivals, the North Shore's American Legion summer baseball team, opened its season with a pair of losses to Esko and Proctor.

Unlike many Legion teams, the Rivals are a squad meshed together from a couple of different high school teams with players from both Silver Bay and Two Harbors.

"When we played Esko the other night, it was basically their high school team," Rivals coach Rob Best said.

The Rivals lost to Esko 19-4 in the opening game of the season and defense was a big problem for the home team. Easton Best, one of the team's top pitchers gave up nine runs in three innings, but only one was earned as a result of five defensive errors.

"Defense is what wins games," Rob Best said. "You can score all you want, but it doesn't matter if you don't play defense."

Unlike most of the other teams that are extensions of the local high school teams, the Rivals, as their name suggests, are made up of players from rival high schools and it takes a little time each summer for the teams to learn to play together.

From Two Harbors, the Rivals will expect to get strong pitching and hitting from Easton Best, who plans to play next spring at St. Cloud Tech. Other Agates that will be major contributors are Keller Conrow, Tim Luoma, Bret Olson and Eric Carlson.

Nick Perfetto, who is attending Waldorf University to play baseball this fall, will be a major contributor from Silver Bay from the mound and at the plate. Other Mariners that Rob Best expects big things from are Riley Tiboni, Ero Wallin and Jake Bilben.

On Tuesday, Proctor defeated the Rivals 10-0 in Two Harbors. Lake Superior managed only two hits, but managed to clean up the fielding with just two errors in the game. Conrow had three strikeouts in the game and Perfetto had two.

"I expect us to take some lumps early, we have a really tough schedule," Rob Best said. "But I think come playoff time we should be where we want to be."

The games will come fast and furious from here on out for the Rivals, starting with a tournament in Ely this weekend, the team will play 16 games over the next two and a half weeks before the playoffs start.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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