Postseason Hopes Hang in the Balance After 4-2 Loss to Waterloo
Duluth, Minn - Tonight the Huskies began their last home series of the regular season against the Waterloo Bucks. Duluth came into tonight's game in 3rd place sitting 2.5 games behind Eau Claire. The path to the playoffs is simple: win the next 4 games to have a shot at winning the division. Tonight would be the first step in that direction, but if Duluth lost and Eau Claire won the Huskies would officially be eliminated from the postseason.
Schuyler Hill came into tonight's game after giving up a run in three relief innings against Eau Claire a week ago and faced UC-San Diego product Luke Mattson who tossed 5.1 scoreless innings against Thunder Bay a week ago and sports a solid 3.13 ERA.
Bennett Hostetler scored the first run of the night to take an early lead for Waterloo when he stole home plate straight up and avoided the tag with two outs. The risk paid off for the Bucks, but Nico Lima retorted with a two-RBI single scoring Tappen and Guzman to take a 2-1 lead as the 2nd inning began. With that hit, he had an average of .500 over his last dozen at-bats.
The next two frames went scoreless as Hill and Mattson racked up 10 strikeouts combined, but Kyler Arenado came through with a big one-out single in the top of the 4th that tied it up at 2-2. Hill's walks came back to bite him as Alonzo Rubalcaba was the first man to reach base in the inning on a full-count walk. He bounced back well to strike out Kevin Blum and get Mike Nyisztor to pop out to right field, keeping the game knotted up.
Brock Mosier ended up coming in to take his place for the top of the 5th. He was initially scheduled to start game one of the La Crosse series, but since the game got rained out, he was scratched and did not pitch in either games in Wednesday's double-header.
Mosier came in and issued a leadoff walk to Patrick Ferguson, and then Bennett Hostetler followed him up with a blast to the centerfield warning track that Greenfield bobbled, allowing runners to get on 2nd and 3rd with no one out.
A groundout from Ethan Copeland up the middle to Joey Zwak allowed Ferguson to come home and grab Waterloo's first lead of the night. Then a wild pitch to Alonzo Rubalcaba on a 1-2 count with two outs permitted Hostetler to scamper home and give Waterloo a two-run lead. Mosier would not return for the 6th as Jake Sande got the call from the pen.
Brett Lockwood was the Bucks' first reliever of the evening as Mattson gave up two runs on three hits and struck out five over 5 innings. Coming into today's game he had given up just one run over his last 10.1 innings of work, all as a reliever. He would up extend that streak to 12.1 innings after tossing two scoreless innings to keep Duluth trailing by two with two more chances at the plate.
Alec Holcomb would be Bucks Manager Casey Harms' choice for the bottom of the 8th as the top of Duluth's order came to bat. Holcomb set the side down in order as he pounded the zone to get 0-2 counts on each batter that half inning.
Holcomb did not let up in the bottom of the 9th as he once again got two strikes on each man he went up against and struck out the side to get Waterloo the 4-2 win.
In order to make the playoffs now since Eau Claire lost to Bismarck this evening, the Huskies will have to win their remaining three games and hope that the Express lose all of their remaining regular season games. Also, La Crosse will have to lose at least two of their next three games.
Duluth plays their last regular-season home game tomorrow night so be sure to come out and support the Huskies in what might be their last game at The Wade this summer. First pitch is set for 6:35 pm with live game coverage on 92.1 The Fan and twinportssportshub.com beginning at 6:25 pm. All Duluth Huskies and Northwoods League games are live streamed online at portal.stretchlive.com/nwl to watch.
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