While Duluth Huskies pitcher Ben Gerl didn’t go so far to say it felt like deja vu all over again, like New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra, his Duluth starting pitching debut Wednesday felt eerily similar to his first collegiate start, because that didn’t go well, either.

Fortunately, Gerl will get another shot, and hopefully, soon.

The Eau Claire Express took advantage of 12 walks, five wild pitches and three hit batters to down Huskies 10-6 in Northwoods League baseball before 499 at Wade Stadium.

“Honestly, I felt good,” Gerl said. “But a couple weak hits, a couple walks, and that’s what happens. I have to do better.”

Gerl is the grandson of the late Duluth Dukes catcher Bernie Gerl, who was the last living survivor of the infamous 1948 Duluth Dukes bus crash.

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Gerl yielded three hits Wednesday and three runs (two earned), with two walks and a wild pitch in one inning. He also had an error in the field. He wanted to go back out there for another couple innings but since he threw 35 pitches — 19 of which went for strikes — he was done for the day, per NWL rules.

Gerl is hoping to get back out there this weekend as Wednesday wasn’t much more than a bullpen session.

“That’s the thing that sucks about being a pitcher, you have to sit and let it marinate for a couple days,” Gerl said. “I have to attack it with a good attitude and get my work in on my in-between days.”

That — a good attitude — is something Gerl certainly has, and something grandpa would certainly be proud of. He wasn’t about to make excuses but hadn’t pitched in a game since mid-May.

“Sometimes stuff’s not going to go your way, but that’s just baseball,” Gerl said. “It’s all about how you respond. I just have to come back next time and do better.”

Huskies hold off Express in opener

Duluth (5-3) remains a game up on Eau Claire (5-5) in the Great Plains East second-half standings.

After walking 13 in a loss at Mankato Tuesday night, a game in which the Huskies used position players on the mound to save their pitching for a tough stretch this week, they bounced back nicely with a 4-3 victory over the Express in Wednesday’s opening game of their doubleheader.

“We got a quality effort out of Ronnie (Voacolo) and then the bullpen came in and got outs to get us out of a tough situation,” Huskies manager Marcus Pointer said. “It's always kind of tough to look ahead when you want to play the game in front of you but obviously, knowing we had a lot of games coming up, especially a doubleheader, we tried to save some innings Tuesday.”

Five former Huskies drafted

Five former Duluth Huskies were taken in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft Sunday through Tuesday in Denver.

Leading the way was shortstop Nic Kent, a University of Virginia product who played for the Huskies in 2019, taken by Colorado in the 11th round, 320th overall.

Kent was followed by another trio of 2019 Huskies players — shortstop Channy Ortiz (Grand Canyon University) to Arizona (14th/408th), pitcher Dennis Boatman (Sacramento Community College) to Cincinnati (17th/510th) and pitcher Austin Smith to Atlanta (18th/547th) — and lastly, third baseman and 2017 Huskies alum Cam Williams (Texas) to Kansas City (19th/559th).