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Huskies Bats Go Quiet Late, Bullpen Roughed Up in Loss to Mankato

The Duluth Huskies (11-10) dropped the last game of their road trip to the Mankato MoonDogs (10-10), snapping a three-game losing streak by a score of 13-4 on Tuesday.

Henry DeCaster (0-2) surrendered just two earned runs over 4.2 innings on seven hits, and continued his high volume of strikeouts with five. MoonDogs starter Tyler Lesley (2-0) was chased off the mound by four Huskies runs in the second inning, and made way for Austin Bollinger (2-0), the day’s winning pitcher, who dominated the Huskies with 10 strikeouts in five scoreless innings of long relief work.

The second inning looked like it was going to be another big one offensively for Duluth, mirroring the eight-run barrage of the night before. Instead, the Huskies sent 10 men to the plate, including Caleb Robinson twice in his return to the lineup. He was driven in by an Isaac Collins single, and Camryn Williams scored Kyle Hubbuch with a sacrifice fly. After Sam Baier singled to load the bases, Luke Roskam and Matt Frazier hit back-to-back singles to drive in Gabe Knowles and Collins, respectively, to take a 4-0 lead. That was the end of the day for Lesley.

Unlike the night before, the MoonDogs did not buckle. Instead, with runners at the corners and no outs, it was Nick Vaage who drove in Wells Davis for the first of three runs in the bottom of the second. Catcher C.J. Schaeffer send a frozen rope down the right field line to bring in Vaage, and two batters later came around to score on an error by Huskies shortstop Camryn Williams on a ground ball off the bat of leadoff man Jake Shepski.

Still trailing 4-3, the MoonDogs ended DeCaster’s day with three more in the fifth. With two outs and Shepski at second, having swiped the bag, Ethan Valdez singled to right field but was able to advance two additional bases when the routine ball was mishandled by Jake Smith and rolled all the way to the wall. Shepski scored without a worry to tie the game, and Valdez, now at third, scored easily to give the MoonDogs the lead on the next pitch, which got away from Luke Roskam behind the plate. That was the end of DeCaster’s day, and Austin Truso came on in relief.

After walking Wells Davis, Zac Wiley singled to put runners at first and third. Next, Nick Vaage was walked on a ball in the dirt that also got behind Roskam, allowing Davis to score an unearned run and Wiley to move to second. Truso then promptly drilled C.J. Schaeffer with the first pitch in the at-bat to load the bases, but got out of the jam by getting Kenton Crews to groundout to Camryn Williams, who stepped on second to retire the side and leave the score 6-4 in favor of the MoonDogs.

Austin Bollinger, who came on in relief of Tyler Lesley, was absolutely masterful in his five innings of relief work. He allowed no runs on five hits and three walks, and an arsenal highlighted by a vicious curveball saw him strike out the first seven Huskies he faced, and brought that total up to 10 by the time he was substituted for with one out in the eighth by Matt Young, who closed out the inning.

The MoonDogs led by two entering the bottom of the eighth thanks to six unanswered runs, and showed no signs of slowing down. They wanted revenge after being blown out the night before by the Huskies 12-6, and they got it. After Trevor Smisek pitched a scoreless seventh, Andrew O’Dwyer entered to pitch the eighth and failed to record an out on a day where he didn’t have any of his best stuff. Back-to-back singles led off the inning, a wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, and the ensuing walk loaded the bases with no outs. Alvaro Rubalcaba was walked to bring around C.J. Schaeffer, and with the bases still loaded, Toby Hanson singled to drive in Jake Shepski and Kenton Crews. With runners at the corners, Rubalcaba scored on a wild pitch, and Ethan Valdez was walked to put runners at first and second. Still with no outs, Wells Davis was sitting on a full count before being hit by O’Dwyer to load the bases. O’Dwyer’s day was done, and Victor Santana, who pitched the ninth inning the night before, was brought in to end the threat. Zac Wiley drove in Toby Hansen on a single, and Nick Vaage followed suit with a base hit to bring in Valdez. A couple of ground ball RBIs and a Kenton Crews strikeout later, the MoonDogs’ eleven-man, seven-run outburst was settled, and the score sat at 13-4 in favor of the home team.

Naithen Dewsnap unceremoniously sat the Huskies down in order in the ninth to end the ballgame and the road trip for Duluth.

The Huskies look to get back on track and build on five wins in their last seven games with two home games against Thunder Bay on Wednesday and Thursday. First pitch is at 6:35 p.m. with Jake Mielock set to go for Thunder Bay.