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Baseball: Huskies power past Mud Puppies in home opener

Marcelo and Co. put up 17 runs on 16 hits to outpace Minnesota.

Huskies overwhelm Mud Puppies in 2022 home opener at Wade Stadium
Tyler Leroy (41) and Noah Marcelo (45), both with the Duluth Huskies, celebrate a grand slam against the Minnesota Mud Puppies on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at Wade Stadium in Duluth. Marcelo hit the grand slam against the Mud Puppies. Leroy and Marcelo both attend Arizona Western College.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — The Duluth Huskies scored a whopping two runs through their first two games of the 2022 Northwoods League season.

It took them all of one inning in their home opener against the Minnesota Mud Puppies Wednesday to match or top that feat, and then they decided to do it again.

And again, and again and again.

This wasn’t getting offensive. This was nuclear.

Outfielder Noah Marcelo of Arizona Western College hit a grand slam and finished with seven RBIs to lead the way as the Duluth Huskies outslugged the Mud Puppies 17-9 before 531 at Wade Stadium.

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Marcelo hit his grand slam in the bottom of the third, a rocket shot that hit the netting in left field about 20 feet above the Auto Race Express Lube sign.

“At the plate, I was just trying to do damage,” Marcelo said of his approach in the third. “First pitch, I’m looking heater and just trying to do damage.”

Teammate Kristian Campbell of Georgia Tech added four of Duluth's 16 hits while contributing three RBIs for the Huskies (1-2), who got their first win of the young season.

As a general rule, pitchers are considered to have the advantage early in the Northwoods League as the collegiate players adjust to using wood bats, but that wasn’t the case here.

Arizona Western plays in a junior-college league that uses wood bats, so Wednesday, it was advantage Marcelo. Marcelo, who played for the Huskies in 2019, had 10 home runs in his first season at Arizona Western in what he called “a breakout season” and hopes to turn his temporary contract with Duluth into a full one this summer.

“I’ve always had my pop but never saw it show up in the stat line till now — nothing like this past year,” said Marcelo, who isn’t the biggest guy at 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds but he’s plenty strong.

Huskies overwhelm Mud Puppies in 2022 home opener at Wade Stadium
Pat Miner (40) of the Duluth Huskies pitches the ball against the Minnesota Mud Puppies on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at Wade Stadium in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Arkansas Tech’s Pat Miner allowed just two runs in five innings to get the win for Duluth.

St. Scholastica’s Jake Schelonka added two doubles, a run and RBI for the Huskies while Minnesota Duluth’s Alex Wattermann had three RBIs to lead the Mud Puppies (0-1), who are a road-only team and were playing their season opener.

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“It felt great,” Marcelo said. “The camaraderie is starting to come together, and when everyone is hitting, it’s contagious. It felt great to have fun and get the win out here today.”

Fans were greeted to sunny 67-degree skies to start Wednesday’s contest. While it quickly became overcast, it never rained and the temperature remained comfortable throughout relative to a typical early June night at the Wade.

The official opening pitch was at 6:29 p.m. before the Huskies proceeded to score three runs in the bottom of the first, three in the second, five in the third, four in the fourth and another two in the fifth, for good measure, making it 17-4 after five innings.

Huskies overwhelm Mud Puppies in 2022 home opener at Wade Stadium
Kristian Campbell (24) of the Duluth Huskies hits the ball against the Minnesota Mud Puppies on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at Wade Stadium in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

It took 1 hour, 50 minutes just to complete the first four innings. At that point, it was only 15-2, prompting Huskies general manager Greg Culver to say, “Now this is better. That’s a football score.”

And we still had a touchdown and field goal to go.

The seventh-inning stretch was more like the seventh-inning snooze.

It didn’t come till 9:30 p.m., past bedtime for many kiddos. While the crowd certainly thinned by then, there were still plenty of diehard fans, parents, host parents and friends to see this one till the end.

Huskies overwhelm Mud Puppies in 2022 home opener at Wade Stadium
Kristian Campbell (24) of the Duluth Huskies celebrates hitting a double against the Minnesota Mud Puppies by pretending to throw the dice on the turf on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at Wade Stadium in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The same teams rematch at 12:05 p.m. Thursday as part of Education Day at Wade Stadium.

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“There’s no transition period needed coming here. It feels great,” Marcelo said. “I’ve had a great relationship with Marcus (Huskies coach Marcus Pointer) and would love to stay all year. I’d like to get as many at bats and possible and show whoever is watching that I can play.”

Huskies overwhelm Mud Puppies in 2022 home opener at Wade Stadium
Noah Marcelo (45) of the Duluth Huskies celebrates after hitting a grand slam against the Minnesota Mud Puppies on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, at Wade Stadium in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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 jnowacki@duluthnews.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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