Huskies roll past Willmar, advance to SCWS
The Duluth Huskies are headed back to the Summer Collegiate World Series after a dominant 17-7 victory in the North Division Championship Tuesday night at Willmar, Minn.
The Huskies (49-25) advance to the SCWS for the third time in franchise history when they take on the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders, who defeated Kalamazoo 3-1 in the South Division Championship.
Neither franchise has won a Northwoods League title. The Huskies have appeared in the best-of-three championship series twice (2004 and 2013), but were swept both times by Madison.
Fond du Lac was founded in 2016 and will be making their first trip to the Summer Collegiate World Series.
Game one is tonight at Herr-Baker Field in Fond du Lac, with first pitch set for 6:35 p.m. Games two and three (if necessary) will be played Thursday and Friday at Wade Stadium in Duluth.
The Stingers opened the scoring Tuesday night with a run in the third inning, but it was all Huskies the rest of the way with 17 consecutive runs after the fourth inning, scoring in each of the final five frames.
Willmar scored six times in the ninth to make the Huskies sweat before Sean Watkins recorded the final three outs.
Andrew Stout was the winning pitcher, allowing one run on five hits and seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Ten different Huskies recorded a hit, led by Michael McCann, who came off the bench in the fifth inning and finished 3-for-4 with six RBIs.
Antonio Monroy also had a three-hit day as he and General McArthur each drove in four runs. Nick Sogard, Chris Gilbody, Hunter Bigge and McArthur added two hits apiece in the Huskies' 18-hit attack.
With Willmar leading in the fifth, the benches cleared after the Huskies' Julian Escobedo was tagged out in an aggressive rundown. Following the scuffle, Escobedo and Willmar's Joey Ortiz were ejected. A Duluth bench player also got the boot for his part in the brouhaha.
Whether the fracas was the impetus or not, the tone of the game changed dramatically after it.
Willmar starter Sam Gardner, so solid through 5 1/3 innings, unraveled in the sixth. He allowed Bigge's one-out double, threw a wild pitch that allowed Bigge to take third, then hit Sean Watkins.