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Huskies Win Marathon in Thirteen

The Duluth Huskies (15-15) won a thirteen-inning marathon in Willmar against the Stingers (18-11) by a score of 11-10 on Saturday.

The second-longest game in Bill Taunton Stadium history reached five hours and thirteen minutes. Between the two teams, 22 runs, 29 hits and 15 pitchers were used. Starters Gaylon Viney (3-3) and Connor Herd (1-1) both got no-decisions, the win instead going to Austin Truso (3-1) for Duluth, and Connor Jahn (1-1) for Willmar. Truso matched a season-high with three innings of work, all scoreless.

It was the Huskies that struck first on a Kyle Hubbuch single with two aboard in the first to score Rudy Karre. Chase Strumpf advanced to second and then took third on a wild pitch by Stinger starter Connor Herd. Rob Emery immediately followed up with a sacrifice fly to center fielder Marcus Still to make it 2-0 Huskies.

Their lead was short-lived as Nola Bumstead grounded out to Isaac Collins at second to score Luke Becker to bring Willmar within one. With Marcus Still at third and one out, Danny Rodriguez took Gaylon Viney deep to give the Stingers what would be their only lead of the day, one of the 3-2 variety. Viney cruised through the next four innings, facing the bare minimum nine men over his next nine putouts. The junior finished the day with three strikeouts and three walks allowed.

In the third inning, Rob Emery picked up his third RBI in two plate appearances, knocking in Isaac Collins and Chase Strumpf on a double into center field. Luke Roskam took the next pitch into center, scoring Emery to give Duluth a 5-3 lead. That spelled the end of the day for Herd. Usually a reliever, he matched a season-high with three innings of work, and finished with two walks and five hits allowed, and no strikeouts.

Chase Strumpf extended the Husky lead to its largest at three with a solo shot off Anthony Garza, who turned in three innings of otherwise spotless relief work.

Caleb Ledbetter fired back with a solo homer of his own in the bottom of the sixth to bring his team back within two. The game went quickly and quietly other than a Tyler Reichenborn walk with the bases loaded by Tre Brown to score Nolan Bumstead and make it a 6-5 Husky lead until the ninth inning.

The Huskies scored what ended up being two crucial insurance runs in the ninth. With one out, Chase Strumpf took a pitch between the shoulder blades and advanced to second on Kyle Hubbuch’s single. With one away, Emery walked to load the bases for Roskam. The Husky catcher slapped a single into right over the glove of a leaping Luke Becker at second, scoring Strumpf and Hubbuch and giving Duluth an 8-5 lead entering the last frame.

After Victor Santana got out of the jam in the eighth, it was Colin Baumgard’s game to close. Willmar entered the day in a tie for first with Eau Claire and were not about to go quietly. Harrison Schnurbusch started things off with a single, and Becker followed up with a walk before Marcus Still very quickly drove in Schnurbusch with his only RBI of the day. Now with Still at first, Becker at third and nobody out, Willmar was all of a sudden mounting a comeback, and the game-winning run was at the plate in Nolan Bumstead. Everyone and their mother knew Still would steal. He wanted to extend his lead in the steals category in the Northwoods League with 39, and he tried just that. After two pickoff attempts, Still bolted for second on a 2-0 pitch that went up and in to Bumstead. Luke Roskam popped up and fired a one-hop strike to Isaac Collins at second. Collins fielded it perfectly and applied a textbook tag to get Still by a heartbeat. The baserunning threat was neutralized, and one out was recorded. Becker still sat at third. Bumstead walked, Rodriguez drove Becker in three pitches later on a double that put men at second and third with one out and the lead at just one. After intentionally walking shortstop Josh Bissonette, Baumgard’s day was done. Joe Gonrowski came in to try and shut the door. However, he hit Ledbetter on his first pitch to tie the ballgame. With the bases loaded and one out, Joe locked in. He fought back from a 3-0 count to Tyler Reichenborn and got him to swing and miss at three straight pitches. Justus Nelson came on as a pinch hitter for the 0-for-4 catcher Tyler Murray, but dribbled out to Isaac Collins to send the game to extras.

In the top of the tenth, Kale Latorre came in and immediately felt the Huskies bats. Kyle Hubbuch notched two more RBIs on a bases-loaded single into center to score Isaac Collins and Augie Isaacson, who had come on as a defensive substitute for Alec Abercrombie in the sixth. He was then pulled in favor of Nick Mears, who continued his scoreless streak with two thirds of a shutdown frame to stop the bleeding.

Gonrowski came back out to pitch the tenth and close things out with now a 10-8 lead. But, again, Willmar did not go gently into that good night. Nay, it was Nolam Bumstead who raged and drove in Luke Becker after he advanced to third on a wild pitch, and Rodriguez as well who added his fourth RBI of the day on a game-tying sacrifice fly to Andrew Robinson in right to score Still. Josh Bissonette flew out to end the threat, but the Huskies were back to the drawing board.

In the eleventh, Connor Jahn started his long relief appearance after Nick Mears surrendered runners at the corners, compliments of a passed ball and Augie Isaacson reaching on the only error of the day, by first baseman Danny Rodriguez. With no outs, Jahn chucked two scoreless innings, helped out by a huge mental error by Isaacson on the basepaths, and then a double play by Collins to end the threat after Karre walked for the third time on the day.

The thirteenth proved unlucky for Jahn, however, as the Huskies took the lead in the top of that frame. Robinson started it off with a walk, and very quickly was eliminated as Jack Stronach grounded into a 1-6-3 double play. With two outs and the bases empty, the Huskies manufactured their one needed run. Jahn issued back-to-back walks to Augie and Rudy Karre (his fourth), and it was Isaac Collins who came through with a huge double down the left field line to score Augie. With two runners in scoring position and two down, Chase Strumpf squandered an opportunity to add a few more runs by flying out to Marcus Still in center, but it wouldn’t matter.

Austin Truso had his sharp, 12-6 curveball working for all three innings of scoreless work, and none more so than in the thirteenth. Nursing an 11-10 lead, he bucked the trend of the Huskies relinquishing their last few leads in the same inning, and sat down Ledbetter, Reichenborn and Nelson in order to secure the win in a remarkably efficient, five-pitch inning.

Hubbuch, Emery and Roskam combined for two runs, eight hits and nine runs batted in on the day. Isaac Collins also notched four hits on the day, and Chase Strumpf hit his fifth home run of the year et route to a 2-for-4 day with four runs scored. He was also hit by a pitch in three consecutive plate appearances, all by different pitchers.

For Willmar, Danny Rodriguez had a career game, going 4-for-6 with a two-run homer and four RBIs.

The Huskies and Stingers will do battle again on Sunday in the final home game for Willmar. Ryan Cunningham (2-2) and Joe Vranesic (2-2) are the probables for Duluth and Willmar, respectively. First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. Catch the action all season long, home or away, on 96.5 WKLK or streaming on www.northwoodsradio.com.