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Northwoods League baseball: Huskies hold on to take playoff series over Express

Keller’s single in the fourth inning winds up being the game winner as Duluth pitching wins out.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin — Jeremy Keller’s single to score Cam Frederick in the fourth inning proved to be the game-winner as the Duluth Huskies held on for a 4-3 victory over the Eau Claire Express to capture their best-of-three Northwoods League playoff series 2-0 Monday night before 1,004 fans at Carson Park.

Duluth had lost all eight regular-season meetings against Eau Claire during the regular season, but turned the tables in the first round of the postseason.

The Huskies, the Great Plains East first-half champions, advance to play at the Willmar Stingers, the Great Plains West second-half champions, Tuesday in a one-game playoff to advance to the Summer Collegiate World Series. Willmar advanced with 6-5 and 3-2 victories over St. Cloud.

Duluth’s pitching was stellar Monday, helping the Huskies overcome three errors on the night.

Starter Jake Combs only allowed one run on four hits, with four strikeouts and one walk to get the victory. Eau Claire came back with two runs in the bottom of the seventh before Isaac Rohde and Mason Burns shut the door, allowing no runs and no hits in a combined three innings of work.

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Chico State’s Jeremy Keller had three hits and an RBI, California Polytechnic’s Jack Painter had two hits, a run and two RBIs, and Frederick had two hits and a run to lead the Huskies offensively.

Sam Kuchinski had a hit, walk and RBI to lead Eau Claire, but nobody had a multi-hit game as the Express were held to four hits.

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