Huskies Fly Back into First-Place with 5-4 Victory
The Huskies struggled to produce offense in their two losses in Willmar on Wednesday, and did at times in their game on Thursday night against Mankato. But when it mattered most, the offense came through and pushed across the winning run in walk-off fashion after 13 innings of baseball.
The Moondogs (39-24, 18-9) came into the game in a three-way tie for first place atop the second half standings in the north division with both Willmar and the Duluth Huskies (43-20, 19-8).
Mankato took an early lead at Wade Stadium over Huskies starter Sean Watkins (Cal State Los Angeles) to get an early 3-0 advantage.
The first run came across on the just the second at-bat of the contest as Garrett Mitchell (UCLA) brought in Nick Novak (Angleo State) to make it 1-0. Two batters later, Austin Bull (Grand Canyon) drove in Mitchell to score. The inning was capped off by a error that brought in Bull to make it 3-0.
Watkins responded with a strong second inning to give the Huskies offense a chance to take the lead, which they would in the second frame.
The Huskies batted around and scored four in the inning to take the lead over the Moondogs. The scoring all occurred with two outs, as it began with a two-RBI single by Julian Escobedo (San Diego State).
Two batters later, Nick Sogard (Loyola Marymount) brought in Escobedo to score to tie the game. The inning was capped off by good base running from Augie Isaacson (Friends University) as he came home on a double steal that put the Huskies up 4-3.
Two innings later, the Moondogs tied the game on an RBI fielders choice by Novak to make it 4-4. For both sides, the scoring was done until the thirteenth inning.
In the fifth, Kieran Shaw (Harvard) came in to relieve Watkins on the mound. Shaw was fantastic, tossing five and one-third innings of scoreless baseball to keep the game tied. In the eleventh, Tim Holdgrafer (Cal Poly Pomona) took over for Shaw and was ultimately the winning pitcher in the marathon game that lasted five hours and six minutes.
After squandering a massive opportunity in the twelfth, the Huskies came back in the thirteenth looking to finish the job. With two runners on and two outs, Hunter Bigge (Harvard) stepped in and drove a ball up the middle to bring in Nick Sogard and win the game, 5-4.
With the victory, the Huskies improve to 43-20 on the year and move into sole possession of first place in the north division second half title race with nine games to play. La Crosse, Willmar and Mankato are all within one game of Duluth.
The Huskies are back tomorrow as they take on the Mankato Moondogs once again with first pitch scheduled for 6:35 p.m. As always, you can listen to live coverage of the contest live on 92.1 The Fan in and around Duluth or online on the Huskies website.
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