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Blandford, Bullpen lead Huskies past Waterloo

Huskies score seven unanswered to cap fifth straight win.

Cal Friedman – calf0823@gmail.com

Duluth, Minn – Revenge is a dish best served cold.

The Duluth Huskies’ 2021 season came to an end at Waterloo, swept by the Bucks in the 2021 Great Plains Division Playoffs. In their first meeting since that series, the Huskies had other thoughts in mind.

The Huskies rallied for their fifth straight victory, erasing an early deficit to win 7-3 against the Waterloo Bucks at Wade Stadium. It was the first come-from-behind win for the Huskies in 2022.

Patrick Miner made his first start in Duluth’s home opener against the Minnesota Mud Puppies, earning the win after throwing five innings with five strikeouts. His outing got off to a rough start, with outfielder Ryan Guardino launching his first home run of the season to give the Bucks a 2-0 lead. Will Cheatham tacked another run for the Bucks with an RBI single, putting the Huskies down three before facing their first pitch.

Duluth found an immediate lifeline in the bottom of the first. Outfielder JD Rogers laced a double to right field, then came home to score on a throwing error by Bucks’ third baseman Colin Kasperbauer. The Huskies pulled another run back in the second on a triple to right field by Michael Sarhatt, cutting the deficit to one.

Logan Runde got the start for the Bucks (2-7) after giving up four runs across three innings in his first appearance at Mankato. He gave up three runs through three innings at Duluth, after Bobby Blandford drilled a double to right field for his first Huskies hit and RBI.  Joe Vos wheeled from first to home, and the Huskies tied the game at three heading to the middle innings.

After four consecutive shutout frames from Miner, the Huskies took their first lead of the game in the bottom of the fifth. On a pop out by Devin Hurdle, Blandford snuck into second base, while Vos rounded third to give Duluth a 4-3 lead.

The Huskies (6-3) faced three Bucks pitchers in that inning, with Jalen Martinez walking in a run on a Tyler LeRoy to boost the lead to two. Trent Reddick was able to close the frame after, with the Huskies leaving the bases loaded.

Nolan Lebamoff came out of the bullpen to relieve Miner, who tossed five consecutive shutout frames. Waterloo lead off the inning with a single, but the Valparaiso product worked around the inning with a strikeout to close the inning.

Sometimes, when a team is hot, they can make their own luck. Rogers stole second and third after a leadoff bunt single, then came home on a Kristian Campbell steal of second base. Blandford capped an exceptional debut with an RBI single two batters later to knock Campbell in from third.

The Fresno State Bulldog closed his first appearance with three hits, two RBI, one walk, and one run.

Jake Christianson earned the Huskies’ first save of the season, throwing two shutout frames. The reliever also added four strikeouts, bringing his season total to 14 through just five and a third innings thrown.

Miner earned his second win of the season for Duluth, while Anthony Pron took the loss for Waterloo.

The Huskies and Bucks will close out their first of four series tomorrow at Wade Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 P.M.