By Max Mercy
DULUTH -- Proctor defeated Esko, 11-9, in the semifinals of the Section 7AA Playoffs on Tuesday evening at beautiful Wade Stadium.
The Rails jumped ahead early, having scored three runs each in the first and second innings, for a 6-0 lead.
Sam Johnson plated Tanner Olson with an RBI double for the first run. Johnson scored on an RBI groundout by Blake Imhoff after a single by Nolan McLeod advanced him to third base. McLeod stole second and scored on an RBI single by Tanner Ross.
Proctor scored its three runs in the second inning on one hit, a leadoff single by Nick Terhaar, and four Eskomo errors.
Esko plated five runs on four hits, a walk, and a hit batsman in the fourth inning to cut the lead to 6-5.
The Rails plated three runs in the fifth on four hits and three Esko miscues. Ross had the inning's lone RBI, on a double that scored Imhoff from second base.
Proctor's lead increased to 11-5 with two runs in the sixth via RBI singles by Imhoff and Ross.
Esko made it 11-8 with three runs in the bottom of the sixth. Esko had one hit but took advantage of three walks and two hit batsmen. Olson, pitching in relief, faced one batter in the frame and induced a strikeout with the bases loaded to end the threat.
The Eskomos scored a run on two hits off Olson in the seventh but a fly out to Nolan McLeod in center field cemented the Proctor victory.
Ryan Schubitzke earned the win in relief of starter Terhaar. Schubitzke pitched two innings and allowed three runs on zero hits, four walks, and three hit batsmen. He had five strikeouts. Olson earned the save. He pitched one and one-third innings and allowed one run on two hits with two strikeouts. Terhaar, who blanked Esko for the first three innings, allowed five runs on five hits, one walk, and one hit batsman in three and two-thirds innings. He had four strikeouts.
Ross led the offense by batting 3-for-4 with a double, a run, and three RBI. AJ Reyelts, Sam Johnson, and Terhaar had two hits apiece while Sam Johnson and Imhoff had two RBI.
Proctor, now 17-8, advances to play in its eighth Section 7AA championship. The Rails were victorious in 1976 (2-1 vs. Duluth Denfeld), 2011 (6-3 and 4-3 vs. Hermantown), 2012 (9-2 vs. Cloquet), and 2016 (12-2 vs. Aitkin) and were on the losing end in 1978 (2-1 vs. Grand Rapids), 1982 (7-3 vs. Grand Rapids), and 1984 (10-0 vs. Grand Rapids).