Huskies edge Rox, still ousted from playoffs
The Duluth Huskies withstood a late rally by the St. Cloud Rox to prevail 5-4 on Saturday night at Wade Stadium, but were eliminated from Northwoods League baseball playoff contention following Mankato’s 8-5 victory at Eau Claire.
The Rox scored two runs in the top of the ninth inning via three hits and a Huskies error to cut the margin to one and had two runners on board with two outs. However, Duluth closer Steve Villines, who allowed three hits and two runs and committed the error, rebounded to secure the third out and earn his eighth save of the season.
The Huskies took a 2-0 lead in the third inning with a two-RBI single by left fielder Austin Darby, then countered a solo home run by St. Cloud right fielder Boo Vazquez in the fourth with a run in the fifth.
Following a run by the Rox in the seventh, Huskies first baseman Austin Christensen drove in third baseman Keach Ballard and right fielder Alex Michaels in the bottom of the eighth for two vital runs and a 5-2 lead going into the final inning.
Michaels finished 3-for-4 to lead the Huskies, while designated hitter Vinny Rodriguez went 2-for-4.
Duluth right-hander Chris Kelly (2-0) earned the win after giving up two runs on six hits in 6⅔ innings with three strikeouts and a walk.
In Eau Claire, the Express left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth after scoring two runs, allowing Mankato to escape with the win and first place in the North Division second-half standings. The Huskies sit one game back of Mankato in a tie for third place with Willmar with only today’s 1:05 p.m. home finale against St. Cloud remaining, however, the Moondogs hold the tiebreaker (overall record) over Duluth for the division title, according to Northwoods League officials.