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Huskies lose to Express in extra innings

Duluth catcher Michael Tinsley waits for the ball as Eau Claire’s Lane Milligan slides into home plate during the second inning of Tuesday’s game at Wade Stadium. Milligan was safe on the play to score the game’s first run. Steve Kuchera /

The Duluth Huskies’ promotion for Tuesday was a time-honored one dubbed “2-fer-Tuesday.”

The intention of the promotion was to offer fans two tickets to the game for the price of one, not two games worth, but that’s about how it ended up.

Eau Claire batted around to score seven runs with two outs in the top of the 11th inning to beat the Huskies 16-12 in a Northwoods League baseball game at Wade Stadium that didn’t end until 11 p.m.

The loss overshadowed one of the top single-game performances in Huskies’ history, with catcher Michael Tinsley of Kansas going 3-for-5 with two three-run home runs, seven RBIs and three runs. Duluth didn’t have a home run at Wade Stadium all of last season. In an even bigger rarity, Tinsley’s first home run in the third inning cleared the 380-foot sign in dead center. His second came in the bottom of the 11th, just clearing the right-field foul pole.

An old baseball adage says that home runs are rally killers in that it takes the runners off the base paths, and Tinsley’s second home run was followed by back-to-back Huskies strikeouts to end the game.

With temperatures dipping into the 40s, about 50 fans stuck around to the end of this 4½-hour marathon. For some of the Huskies players from Florida, it must have felt like the coldest winter day they ever spent.

The Huskies (4-11) led most of the game and used seven pitchers, with the Express using five.

Eau Claire (9-6) scored six runs in the top of the fifth to take a 7-6 lead before Duluth regained the lead, 9-7, with three runs in the bottom half of the inning.

That’s the way it stayed until the top of the ninth, when the Express led off the inning with three straight singles to cut the lead to one and tied it on a wild pitch.

Duluth had its chances, loading the bases with one out in the bottom of the 10th only to have the rally end after back-to-back strikeouts. The last of those was at the hands of designated hitter Chris Myjak, who finished 1-for-6 with an infield hit. Myjak is on the team as a pitcher, not a hitter, but has been thrust into other roles as the Huskies attempt to patch together a roster.

Duluth general manager Craig Smith said the Huskies had to waive 17 contracts already this season for a variety of reasons. Some players have been drafted, some had to leave due to injury or personal reasons and others simply didn’t show up.

Smith said players from UCLA are scheduled to arrive Monday. The way things are going, they can’t show up soon enough.