Duluth manager Marcus Pointer described his team’s tough first half and how the Huskies just had to “flush it” and move on.
After Thursday’s Northwoods League game against the La Crosse Loggers, they might want to flush twice.
Ronald Sweeny III had two hits and four RBIs as the Loggers used a buzzsaw to blow out the Huskies 18-6 before 955 at Wade Stadium.
It was the first in a Huskies’ six-game homestand they hope will carry them to a NWL playoff berth but it certainly didn’t start well.
Shortly before the game’s opening pitch, the overcast skies finally opened up and the rain came down, but the artificial surface at Wade Stadium showed its resiliency. Even after the downpour, it was ready to play just a short time later.
No, it wasn’t rain delays making this one last till 10:30 p.m. It was a combined 24 runs, 24 hits, four errors and 22 walks, including 13 by the Huskies. Seven Duluth pitchers also hit four batters for La Crosse (10-13).
Waterloo (14-12), which defeated Mankato 5-1 Thursday, is now 1.5 games ahead of Duluth (12-13) in the Great Plains East second half standings with nine days remaining in the regular season.
Ben Gerl, the grandson of former Duluth Dukes catcher Bernie Gerl, got the start on the mound and it was eerily similar to his debut with the Huskies July 14 as in nothing went right, with the Loggers scoring seven runs in the first inning, with only one of them earned.
The Huskies came back with a run in the bottom of the first and two more in the bottom of the second to make it 7-3 as they were still very much alive. It was a nice crowd, given the weather, with most of the fans there as part of a St. Luke’s employee appreciation night, with the team wearing special baby blue jerseys resembling medical scrub tops to be auctioned off.
But whatever momentum Duluth had gained was quickly lost in the top of the third. Huskies reliever Jake Schelonka, a St. Scholastica product signed over the weekend, quickly got the first two outs before giving up three straight singles and then the killer, a bases-clearing double by Sweeny.
The Loggers plated another eight runs in the fifth but it was remarkable as many fans stuck around to cheer — rather loudly — when Duluth scored two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth — with the Baja Men’s “Who Let the Dogs Out” blaring through the loudspeakers after each run.
In a game like this, you make your own fun.
The same teams rematch at 6:35 p.m. Friday at Wade Stadium.
The Huskies signed St. Scholastica’s Schelonka and Grant Taival over the weekend. Both pitch while Schelonka is also listed as an infielder.