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Published On: June 25th, 2018

Duluth Falls in Willmar 5-4 for Second Straight Night

Huskies North Division lead down to two games

Following a tough 5-4 loss on Saturday night in Willmar, the Duluth Huskies looked to bounce back in a Sunday evening clash with the Stingers. Although the Huskies (18-8) were able to overcome an early three run deficit, a late homerun by Willmar (16-10) put the game out of reach for Duluth.

The hometown Stingers struck in the first inning off Huskies starting pitcher Hayden Shenefield (Cal State Northridge) as an RBI groundout by Nic Hernandez (Cal Poly Pomona) put Willmar on top 1-0.

The Stingers extended their lead in the second inning as Matt Rudick (San Diego State) launched a two-run homerun to make it 3-0 early in the ballgame.

From there, Shenefield settled in on the mound, as he finished with six innings of work while allowing three runs on six hits while fanning five opposing batters.

The Duluth offense got on the board in the third inning as Chris Gilbody (Georgetown College) drove in two runs on a two-RBI single to right field, making it 3-2.

In the sixth, the Huskies offense got to Willmar starting pitcher Louie Varland (Concordia-Saint Paul) once again as Trevin Esquerra (Loyola Marymount) ripped an RBI single to bring in Gilbody to score, tying the game at 3-3.

In the seventh inning, Duluth pitching coach Marcus Pointer called upon right-handed reliever Tim Holdgrafer (Cal Poly Pomona) to take over for Shenefield.

Holdgrafter ended up on the hook for the loss in the game as he surrendered a two-run homerun in the eighth inning off the bat of Richie Garcia (Florida Gulf Coast) to give Willmar a 5-3 lead.

In the ninth, Stingers head coach Bo Henning brought in Jake Drew (North Dakota State) to slam the door on the Huskies, just as he had the previous night.

Duluth got their leadoff runner, Tony Monroy (Georgetown College) aboard to start off the inning. Two batters later, Augie Isaacson (Friends University) hit an RBI groundout to score Monroy, but leaving the bases empty with two outs in the process.

Moments later, Drew struck out the final batter of the night, giving the Stingers their fourth straight victory with a 5-4 final over Duluth.

With the loss, the Huskies fall to 18-8 on the year, after losing two of three games in their three-game road trip. Duluth will look to generate more offense in the coming games, as the Huskies are 2-6 overall when scoring four runs or less, but have an outstanding 16-2 record when producing five or more runs.

The back-to-back losses also make’s things much tighter near the top of the North Division first half title race. With ten games to play in the first half, Duluth holds a two-game lead over three teams in a three-way tie. Of those three squads, Willmar, Mankato, and Bismarck, two still have games with the Huskies to come.

Duluth returns tomorrow as they begin a home-and-home series with Eau Claire at Wade Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m. As always you can listen to live coverage of the contest on 92.1 The Fan in and around Duluth.

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The Duluth Huskies are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Entering its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 190 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR).  All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.duluthhuskies.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Huskies as your favorite team