Duluth unable to get much going as Willmar secures second-half division title
WILLMAR, MN,- The Huskies went down to Willmar, Minnesota, for the final two games of the 2022 Northwoods League season against the Wilmar Stingers.
Both the Huskies and Stingers had punched their playoff ticket and knew who, when, and where they would be playing their playoff games when the tournament kicks off on Sunday, August 14.
While these games would not change the playoff outlook, both teams were playing for small victories. The Huskies came in 15-17 in the second half and 34-31 overall. Marcus Pointer’s squad was looking to keep hope alive of avoiding a losing record in the second half.
On Willmar’s side, the Stingers were one win away from clinching a second-half championship in the Great Plains west. They came in with a 25-7 record in the second half and a 46-20 record overall.
The Huskies sent a debutant to the bump in Jonathan Horn, while Willmar’s starting pitcher was Seth Miller, who came in with a 5.11 ERA in 12 ⅓ innings over five previous appearances, including a start against the Huskies on August 6 at Wade Stadium where he gave up four earned runs over six innings pitched.
In the first inning, the Huskies did nothing but hit line drives and have fantastic at-bats. Unfortunately, some bad luck kept them off the board. Joe Vos was gunned down trying to score by Willmar Right Fielder Josh Fitzgerald for the first out of the inning, and then Devin Hurdle hit a line drive right to the shortstop Nick Terrell that turned into a Double Play when Jonathan Vastine got caught a little far off second base.
The scoring began in the third inning when Kyle Payne left earth, hitting a 2-run home run out to the short porch in left field at Bill Taunton stadium. It was 2-0 Wilmar.
The bottom of the fourth was full of bad news for the Huskies. Jonathan Horn retired Carson Hake to start the inning but then allowed seven straight baserunners, including a second two-run home run from Kyle Payne, an RBI single from Josh Fitzgerald, and an RBI double from Drey Dirksen. The Stingers scored a total of five runs in the inning and blew the score open at 7-0.
The Huskies finally scored in the top of the seventh when Jeremy Keller lined a ball of the glove of shortstop Nick Terrell to score Eddie Satisky.
The run-scoring party was not over for Willmar. They scored four more runs in the eighth without the benefit of the hit. Michael Sarhatt gave up six free passes, four walks, and two hit batsmen that allowed the four runs to come across. The score was 11-1.
The Huskies would not amount a miraculous comeback as they lost 11-1. They fall to 15-18 in the second half and 34-32 overall. The Willmar Stingers clinch the Great Plains West second-half title and advance to 26-7 in the second half and 47-20 overall.
Game two of the series and the final game of the regular season will be tomorrow at Bill Taunton Stadium at 7:05.
“Catch the Rising Stars!”
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 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 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.