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Back and Forth Affair Ends in Favor of Eau Claire

Express wins series on a walk-off wild pitch

Ryne Ryskoski

Duluth, Minn — On Sunday night the Huskies took game three of a four-game series against the Eau Claire Express thanks to Cole Milam’s brilliant outing. With the win Duluth headed into the series finale on Monday night with a 2nd half overall record of 3-2 which tied them with the Express in the Great Plains East division, meaning the winner of the finale would take sole position of 2nd place and could possibly tie with La Crosse for 1st place. Dennis Boatman was the starter for the Huskies and faced off against Mason Verdun of Eau Claire.

The Huskies exploded for 5 runs right away starting with a Wade Meckler infield single that was followed up by Nic Kent drawing a walk to put runners on 1st and 2nd for Alex Tappen. He would strike out swinging, but Max Guzman managed to bring home Meckler from 2nd with an RBI single into left field that gave Duluth their 1st run. The five-hole hitter Danny Zimmerman then got the Huskies’ 2nd run home with a single of his own, and Xavier Bussey followed that up with a 3rd straight single that scored Guzman to grab a 3 run lead.

Yet another run would score when Zimmerman hustled his way to the plate when Bussey stole 2nd base that put the Huskies up by 4 runs; and after Matt Hogan struck out for the 2nd out of the inning, Collin Hopkins beat out a groundball to Brandon Dieter for the 5th single of the inning that Bussey crossed home on for the 5th run.

Boatman would issue back to back walks to Zach Gilles and Spencer Myers to lead off the bottom of the 1st and a double steal put them both in scoring position. Cole Cabrera took advantage of it when he singled into center field to bring home Gilles from 3rd to score the Express’ 1st run of the game. Cabrera would also steal 2nd afterward for his 11th of the season. Troy Beilsmith proceeded to make it a 3 run game after he scored Myers with a sac fly to right field. Boatman would recover however and get the last two outs of the inning to minimize the damage.

Verdun would be pulled from the game after the 1st inning as Noah Denoyer would try to calm down Duluth’s offense. The Huskies would not lose their momentum though as Wade Meckler and Nic Kent would both get on base right away on back to back singles. Alex Tappen brought Duluth’s lead back up to 4 when he brought home Meckler with a sac fly. Denoyer then struck out Guzman and Zimmerman to end the inning.

Boatman would, however, issue three walks in the 2nd inning to load the bases for Eau Claire. He would gather two outs but walked Cole Cabrera which allowed the leadoff man Nick Lopez to come home and make it a 2-run game. Erik Kaiser would then come in for his 11th appearance to try and get out of the inning. His first test was Troy Beilsmith who cleared the bases with a 3-RBI double to tie the game up at 6 in still just the 2nd frame.

After both teams went scoreless in the 3rd inning, Peyton Sherlin entered in the 4th inning as the 3rd pitcher of the night for the Express to relieve Noah Denoyer. Sherlin would set down the Huskies in order to begin his 2nd game of the year. Neither team would score in the 4th inning either.

Sherlin, however, would give up his 1st run in the Northwoods League when Max Guzman hit his 1st home run of the season with a solo shot over the left field fence to retake the lead at 7-6 in the 5th inning.

Both teams would stay quiet for the next couple innings as Kaiser and Sherlin continued to let their defense work behind them and kept the other team’s hitters off balance by mixing up fastballs and off-speed pitches.

Kaiser would then hand the ball to Alex Rao as the bottom half of the 7th inning got underway. Kaiser allowed no runs on one hit, walked one Express batter and struck out 4 over 4.1 innings. He would get into a jam with runners on the corners with two outs but got Connor Laspina to fly out to right field to keep the 7-6 lead as the 8th inning got started.

Cole Cabrera continued to be the Huskies’ Achilles heel when he batted home Spencer Myers from 1st base with a game-tying triple. Myers walked to get on base earlier in the inning. The cleanup hitter Troy Beilsmith would be hit by a Rao pitch on the first pitch of the at-bat to put runners on the corners with one out. Rao would then exit the game as Ricky Reynoso would try to keep the game tied. After hitting the 2nd Express batter of the inning, he would arrange a huge 1-2-3 double play to keep the game knotted up at 7.

Duluth would not be able to break the tie in the top of the 9th, allowing the Express to be able to win it with the next run. They got off to a quick start with a leadoff Nick Lopez ground-rule double, putting the winning run in scoring position with no outs. After Sam Kohnle struck out swinging, Connor Laspina finally got his 1st hit of the night with a single that advanced Lopez to 3rd base. A wild pitch on the first pitch of Zach Gilles at bat would allow Lopez to score and win the game 8-7 and the series three games to the Huskies’ one.

The Huskies will travel to Willmar and face the Stingers in a two-game series. First pitch is set for 7:05 pm with live game coverage on 92.1 The Fan and twinportssportshub.com beginning at 6:55 pm. All Duluth Huskies and Northwoods League games are live streamed online at portal.stretchlive.com/nwl to watch.

Be sure to follow the Duluth Huskies on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat all season long. Check out duluthhuskies.com for tickets to upcoming games. For more in-depth news on the Huskies, be sure to follow @XtraInningsWithRyne and @JoeChatzHuskies on Facebook.

 

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The Duluth Huskies are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 26th anniversary season, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 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 200 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.