Take two: Huskies sweep doubleheader

Duluth baseball coach Adam Stahl couldn't help but feel a little deja vu Tuesday night against the Mankato MoonDogs at Wade Stadium. On Sunday, the Huskies were in control before succumbing to a late Alexandria rally. This time, Duluth withstood ...

Duluth baseball coach Adam Stahl couldn't help but feel a little deja vu Tuesday night against the Mankato MoonDogs at Wade Stadium.

On Sunday, the Huskies were in control before succumbing to a late Alexandria rally.

This time, Duluth withstood a rally and hung on, thanks to relief pitcher Mike Nesseth.

Nesseth, a 6-foot-4 righthander from the University of Nebraska, closed out Mankato by getting the final five outs to secure a 2-1 victory before 514 in the first game of a Northwoods League doubleheader. The Huskies made it a sweep, taking advantage of three errors by the MoonDogs on the way to a 5-4 second-game win.

"That could have been another heartbreak," Nesseth said. "We've had a lot of close games, and you know things aren't always going to go our way. You just try to go out there and do the best you can, throw strikes and try to get them to hit ground balls and let our defense take care of it."


Nesseth, a native of Windom, Minn., hadn't pitchedcompetitively since last summer after being redshirted this spring by the Cornhuskers. Tuesday was his third appearance for the Huskies (4-2).

"The first time out there I was nervous, but I'm not any more," Nesseth said. "I'm starting to feel really comfortable on the mound."

While Huskies starter Zach Von Tersch kept Mankato at bay, Duluth scratched out two runs in the third inning against Mankato starter Luke Vine in the opener. Joe Bonadonna and Chris House opened with singles and later scored on a fly ball by Tony Plagman and a single by Jim Klocke.

"It makes such a big difference when you get can that first guy on base," said Mankato coach Jason Nell. "It just gives you a lot more options, but they took that away from us. They did a good job defending our hitters. They know their ballpark and how the ball carries."

Von Tersch recently joined the team with fellow Georgia Tech players House and Plagman, with another eight players expected as soon as the college season is complete.

Von Tersch gave up just one run on four hits before giving way to Tim Kelley to start the sixth inning. Kelley, who hit two batters in a 6-4 loss to Alexandria on Sunday, struggled again, getting a strikeout before walking the next two batters.

Nesseth came in and gave up a single to load the bases before getting a strikeout and groundout to end the threat. He retired the MoonDogs (2-4) in order in the seventh to earn his first save of the season.

"I don't want to make excuses for Tim Kelley, but he was redshirted at Wichita State and hasn't pitched in a competitive situation in almost nine months," said Stahl. "He's a good pitcher and is going to be fine. There is so much in that kid's arm. We haven't lost any confidence in him and are going to keep sticking him out there.''



In a testing finish, with runners on first and third, closer Adian Kummet got the MoonDogs' Jeff DeSmidt to ground out to the end game.

Duluth appeared headed to a blowout victory, scoring three runs in the second inning and two in the third for a 5-0 lead. Duluth starter Josh Syberg was rolling until the sixth inning, when he walked two batters and gave up a single. He was relieved by Minnesota Duluth pitcher Kyle Zweber, who gave up a double to the first batter, Evan Porter, cutting the lead to 5-4.

Kummet, of St. Scholastica, gave up a single to Jose Pyola to start the seventh and later walked a batter before retiring DeSmidt for a third straight one-run victory.

* Northwoods League home teams were 5-0 on Monday and were 26-7 five days into the season, and that trend continued Tuesday at Wade Stadium.

* Big Ten player of the year Lars Davis was back with the Huskies Tuesday after taking part in professional baseball tryouts in Boston and Cincinnati over the weekend. Davis is expected to be taken in the amateur draft June 7-8.

* The Huskies play at Green Bay Wednesday and Thursday before returning home for games Friday and Saturday against St. Cloud. All games start at 7:05 p.m.

JON NOWACKI covers the Duluth Huskies for the News Tribune. He can be reached weeknights at (218) 723-5305 or by e-mail at .

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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