With nine games remaining in the first half, the lead in the North Division drops to one.
For the third straight game, the Duluth Huskies fell behind early and couldn’t make the comeback, dropping the first game of the series against the Eau Claire Express 8-4 for just their second home loss of the season.
Kieran Shaw (Harvard) made his first start for the Huskies after eight bullpen appearances, and looked good on the mound, allowing only one earned run in 4.1 innings, striking out eight batters. At one stretch in the middle innings, Shaw retired 10 straight batters, and struck out the side in the fourth.
However, the defense let down Shaw, as four Husky errors ultimately led to six unearned runs charged to the starter. An error with two outs in the first inning led to three Express runs, and three more errors in the third inning blew the game open with four more runs scoring.
Trailing 3-0 in the first inning, Duluth faced a tough task against Justin Slaten, Eau Claire’s starting pitcher and the league leader in strikeouts. The Huskies were able to strike early, with Augie Isaacson (Friends) reaching on a leadoff single, and ultimately scoring on a single by Nick Sogard (Loyola Marymount) to put Duluth on the board.
But Slaten found his rhythm later in the game and didn’t allow another hit for the rest of the game, finishing with five strikeouts in six innings and just the one run.
The Huskies didn’t quit though, despite trailing 8-1 entering the bottom of the ninth. Julian Escobedo (San Diego State) led off the inning by reaching on an error. Three runs came across, including two on a single by Tony Monroy (Georgetown College), and Isaacson came to the plate with two outs representing the tying run, but struck out to end the ballgame.
With the loss, the Huskies drop to 18-9 on the season. Duluth still leads the north division with nine games remaining in the first half, but the lead has fallen to one game over the Bismarck Larks. The Huskies have a quick turnaround after a one-game homestand, heading out for a day trip to Eau Claire, first pitch will be at 6:35.
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