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Northwoods League baseball: Growlers top Rafters, play at Huskies in Summer Collegiate World Series Thursday

Duluth is going for its first title in four championship-game appearances.

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WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis. — Casen Taggart’s two-run home run in the top of the 10th inning lifted the Kalamazoo Growlers to an 8-6 victory over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in the Northwoods League Great Lakes Divisional Championship game Wednesday night before 673 fans at Witter Field.

Taggart finished with two hits, two walks and three RBIs to lead the Growlers, who will play the Duluth Huskies in the Summer Collegiate World Series at 6:35 p.m. Thursday at Wade Stadium.

Kalamazoo struck first with two runs in the top of the first inning before Wisconsin Rapids came back with a run in the second and third innings and three in the fourth to take a 5-2 lead.

Kalamazoo regained the lead with four runs in the top of the sixth, sparked by Vince Bianchina’s two-run single, only for the Rafters to score in the bottom half of the inning to knot it up 6-6.

That’s how it would stay until Taggart saw a 1-2 pitch to his liking and launched it over the right-field wall.

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Wisconsin Rapids got two men aboard in the bottom of the 10th inning, but reliever Tyler Johnson induced a fly-out to end the threat.

The game took 4 hours, 4 minutes and 5 seconds to complete as both teams went to the pitching well to try to gain whatever advantage they could.

Duluth will be happy to stay home at Wade Stadium, where the Huskies are 22-14 this season, counting their 8-6 first-round playoff victory over the Eau Claire Express Sunday.

This is the fourth time the Duluth Huskies have made the league title game and are still seeking their first championship. That includes title game appearances in 2004, 2013 and 2018, when Duluth had a stellar 47-25 record — best in franchise history — only to fall to Fond du Lac at Wade Stadium.

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