Duluth avenges first half title with dominant win over Larks
July 3 was the final day of the first half of the 2018 regular season. On that night, the Huskies hosted the Rochester Honkers while the Bismarck Larks played host to the St. Cloud Rox. The Larks and Huskies were tied in the first half title standings going into the night, and it was Bismarck that came away with the coveted title.
Fast forward to July 14 as the Huskies (32-16, 8-4) play Bismarck for the first time since June 1 and host them for the first time all season.
Duluth won in walk-off fashion in game one of the two game series on Saturday night, and came back on Sunday afternoon looking for a clean sweep of the Larks (28-20, 3-9).
The Huskies fell behind early as Bismarck struck for two runs in the first against Duluth starting pitcher Hayden Shenefield (Cal State Northridge).
Both runs came across on one swing as Braden Williams (New Mexico State) smacked one back up the middle to make it 2-0.
The Larks held on to their lead for the opening two innings as all-star starting pitcher Hendry Rodriguez (LSU-Alexandria) settled in on the mound, fanning three Huskies in the first two innings.
In the third, Duluth tied the game as General McArthur (Missouri Baptist) brought in a run on an RBI double and scored moments later on an error by the Bismarck catcher.
On the other side, Shenefield settled in comfortably on the mound for the hometown Huskies as the game continued.
Following the two run first inning, the right-hander tossed six scoreless frames, allowing enough time for Duluth to take the lead. Shenefield (3-0) exited the game after completing seven innings of work, allowing two runs, none of which were earned, allowing zero walks while fanning four Bismarck batters.
The Huskies starting pitcher got the win as well thanks to two runs in the sixth by the Duluth offense. The first run came across thanks to an RBI single by Christian Jones (Washington). Three batters later, Trevin Esquerra (Loyola Marymount) brought in his college teammate, Nick Sogard (Loyola Marymount) to score putting Duluth on top 4-2.
Following Shenefield’s final inning of work, the Huskies blew the game open with four runs in the seventh inning to put the contest out of reach for the Larks.
The highlight of the frame was a three RBI double off the bat of Jones that scored McArthur, Tony Monroy (Georgetown College) and Augie Isaacson (Friends University). Jones came into score moments later on an RBI double by Chris Gilbody (Georgetown College) to make the score 8-2.
In the eighth, it got even worse for Bismarck as the Huskies scored three to increase the lead to 11-2. It was RBI groundouts by Monroy and Isaacson followed by an RBI single by Justin Mitchell (Oklahoma) that continued the lopsided affair.
“We’re swinging the bats really well right now as a club,” Isaacson said. “It helps when everyone around you is hitting, it just makes everything much easier as a batter.”
In the ninth, Bismarck scored two runs off Duluth relief pitcher Colan Treml (Wisconsin-Oshkosh) but by then the game was well out of reach as the Huskies coasted to an 11-4 victory, completing the sweep of the first half champion Bismarck Larks.
The win helps Duluth maintain the best record in the Northwoods League at 32-16 overall and improves their second half record to 8-4. The win also means the Huskies have eclipsed their 2017 win total (finished 31-41 last season).
Tomorrow, the team will enjoy a league-wide off day before heading north of the border to take on the Thunder Bay Border Cats on Tuesday and Wednesday.
As always, you can listen to all of the action of Huskies baseball live on 92.1 The Fan in and around Duluth, Minnesota.
The Duluth Huskies are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in 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