Duluth Huskies get hits, hits, hurray
The Huskies find a spate of offense to win their first game of the season Two things noticeably absent in Duluth's 0-3 start to the Northwoods League season were stellar fielding and run production, two hallmarks of the 2007 season. The Huskies' ...
The Huskies find a spate of offense to win their first game of the season
Two things noticeably absent in Duluth's 0-3 start to the Northwoods League season were stellar fielding and run production, two hallmarks of the 2007 season.
The Huskies' fielding was shaky at times again Sunday, but they got more than enough offense in a 13-7 victory over Thunder Bay before 848 at Wade Stadium.
"Being 0-3 gets stressful, but you just have to stay confident and know it's going to come," Duluth coach Adam Stahl said of the Huskies' first win of the season. "It wasn't pretty, but this win was a big sigh of relief for the coaches, and I'm sure for the players, too. We all know it's there. I'm telling you: This is one of the most talented teams Duluth has ever had."
Duluth led the league in fielding percentage (.970) and was fourth in runs per game (4.05) last season, but the Huskies (1-3) had scored only three runs going into Sunday's contest and made seven errors. The Huskies made four errors Sunday, including a bungled throw home from starting pitcher Matt Benedict.
The sloppy fielding mattered little in the end, as the Huskies pounded out 16 hits, drew four walks and had four batters hit bypitches.
Huskies catcher Andy Petz of Cowley College in Arkansas City, Kan., led the way by going 2-for-4 with four RBIs, including the Huskies' first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth inning that got out of the ballpark in a hurry.
If Sunday's victory wasn't enough reason for optimism, the Huskies still are expecting another 13 NCAA Division I players to join them as the College World Series draws to a close, meaning players such as Petz may not be with the team long. On Sunday, he gave the Huskies reasons to not let him go.
"I'm just trying to work hard and earn a spot with the team," said Petz, a former prep teammate of Huskies shortstop Robby Price at Lawrence (Kan.) Free State High School. "It's always exciting to come out and play a sport you love, but even more now. That home run just felt great. I had a 2-0 count, so I just wanted to make sure I got a good swing on it."
Teammate Layton Hiller added three hits and three RBIs, Joey Bonadonna had three runs and Andrew Durden and Todd Baumgartner had two hits and two RBIs each.
Derek Wiley had a double and three RBIs for Thunder Bay (1-3), which left 11 runners on base.
"We've been struggling to get runners home, but fortunately, we got some errors that helped us this game, because it's not like we were out there pounding the ball all over the place," Thunder Bay coach Devin McIntosh said. "Duluth has a good ballclub. Every team in this league is very talented, and for Duluth to be 0-3 was no indication of the talent they have on that team."
Duluth's lack of offense and porous fielding made for a tough-luck start for the Huskies pitching staff, which had given up only five earned runs through the first three games, including two losses by two runs or fewer.
"I would have liked if we had spread all the runs we had in this game out a little more evenly," Stahl said laughing, "because then we might be 4-0."
JON NOWACKI covers the Duluth Huskies for the News Tribune. He can be reached at (218) 723-5305 or by e-mail at email@example.com .