Esko's first baseball state championship, which wrapped up with a 9-0 drubbing of Perham in the Class 2A final, was certainly impressive in the way the Eskomos shut down their three opponents in the Class 2A tournament. The three pitchers Esko used in the tournament gave up only seven hits and two runs in total.
At the start of the season, both coaches and players knew Esko could hit.
"We could see it in the spring, hitting in the cages and in the gym. We couldn't wait for the snow to melt to get outside," said junior Finn Furcht, who started in Wednesday's semifinals. "We could see how good we were going to be."
What opened head coach Ben Haugen's eyes was their pitching and defense.
"We have some big boys, so we knew we could do some damage at the plate," Haugen said. "What's hidden about our team is out pitching staff. We got three unbelievable pitching performances in this tournament. You get in these games against good teams and the margin of error is so small. That's why pitching wins championships."
Junior Dylan Marciulionis took the mound for Esko Friday with the goal of matching the performances his pitching brethren showed in the tournament's first two games. He was up to the task, shutting down Perham on three hits.
Meanwhile, the Esko bats came alive. They got a run in the top of the second inning, then broke the game open with five more in the fifth. The first four Eskomos reached base as they batted around, taking a 6-0 lead.
Esko scored two more in the sixth and Furcht put a bow on its week with a long home run in the seventh.
"That was amazing. I just knew it was gone, off the bat," Furcht said.
Having already given credit to his pitchers and his hitters, Haugen made sure to give a shout out to ths defense. Esko not only played error-free, the Eskomos turned more than a few slick plays in the field.
"How about some of those plays we made in the field?" he queried with a broad smile. "Somebody was looking out for us today."
Friday's championship game was Esko's last with its longtime nickname "Eskomos," which the school board voted to drop after this school year in response to a newly enacted Minnesota statute prohibiting Native American mascots, nicknames and logos in Minnesota school districts. The change takes effect on June 30.