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Northwoods League baseball: Huskies advance to Summer Collegiate World Series

Piscitello gets out of a ninth-inning jam as Duluth holds on against Willmar Stingers.

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Willmar, Minn. — With runners at the corners, reliever Isaiah Piscitello got Graysen Tarlow to ground out up the middle, shortstop to first as the Duluth Huskies held on for a 5-3 victory over the Willmar Stingers in the Northwoods League Great Plains Divisional Championship Game Tuesday night before 514 fans at Bill Taunton Stadium.

The Huskies advance to the Summer Collegiate World Series. They won’t know who or where they will play next until the Great Lakes Divisional Championship is decided Wednesday, with Kalamazoo playing at Wisconsin Rapids at 6:35 p.m. If Kalamazoo wins, Duluth will host the league championship; if Rapids wins, it will be there. The title game will most likely be Thursday, regardless of opponent.

With a 34-33 overall record, Duluth holds one of the slightest of advantages over Kalamazoo, at 36-35, a .5074 winning percentage vs. .5070.

Hey, .004 ... that works for the Huskies.

Duluth built an early 5-1 lead and then held on, led by a pair of Nebraska-Omaha products — starter Alex Potter logged six solid innings and third baseman Devin Hurdle had three hits, including a solo home run, two runs and two RBIs.

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The University of Minnesota’s Brett Bateman, leading off, had four hits and two runs to lead the Stingers.

The Huskies, the Great Plains East first-half champions, weren’t exactly stellar in the second half, going 15-19, but apparently they’re saving their best for last. They went 0-for-8 against Eau Claire during the regular season only to sweep the Express in their best-of-three playoff opener. From then on, it is single elimination.

This is the fourth time the Duluth Huskies have made the league title game. That includes 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.

Now, the Huskies will get another opportunity to bring it home.

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