Huskies hot-streaking into homestretch

John Gilbert

Huskies Michael McCann slides home with go-ahead run against Waterloo. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Huskies Michael McCann slides home with go-ahead run against Waterloo. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Pitcher Hayden Schenefeld kept the Waterloo Bucks at bay, 4-2. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Pitcher Hayden Schenefeld kept the Waterloo Bucks at bay, 4-2. Photo credit: John Gilbert

Deadlines for personnel moves happen throughout organized baseball, not just in the Major Leagues. While the Twins satisfied the urges of computer geeks and cybernetic sophisticates and earned the scorn of bardcore baseball fans by trading away the likes of Eduardo Escardo and Brian Dozier, the Duluth Huskies also had a deadline Tuesday.

General manager Greg Culver had until the end of the day Tuesday to finalize the Huskies roster through the playoffs, and he was only slightly nervous as first baseman Reed Hjelle still had to arrive to join the team.
“Our rules say that we have until the end of July to finalize our roster, and the only wrinkle is that to be eligible a player must play in at least one game,” said Culver at Monday night’s game
Not to worry. First of all, Hjelle, who is from East Grand Forks and pitches for Minnesota-Crookston, was coming over from the Rochester Honkers — who just happened to be the Huskies opponent Monday, and Tuesday.
The Huskies used those two games to serve notice of how seri0us they are to make a run at the second-half championship.After finishing off the Waterloo Bucks 7-3 before a season-high crowd of 3,611 at Wade Stadium, the Huskies welcomed the Rochester Honkers to town. Some welcome.
Duluth got a 3-2 jump in the first inning Monday, made it 5-0 after two, and exploded for five more in the third, with Sean Watkins smacking a home run as the highlight, and it was 10-0 after three. Jack Corbell pitched for the Huskies, and cruised through four innings allowing just one hit.
He was relieved when the Honkers managed to get a run in the fifth, but if the Huskies didn’t like seeing their lead trimmed to 10-1, they erupted for eight more in the fifth and sailed away to a 20-1 rout.
Corbell ended up allowing three hits, one run, walking two and striking out five.Offensively, the Huskies hit everything thrown their way, winding up with a 14-1 lead and the bases loaded, when Christian Jones blasted a grand slam to left-center to complete the 8-run frame.
The big crowd was having a rollicking good time, and by the sixth inning, it was 18-1 and the hits were 15-3.Ending 20-1 supplied an excess of momentum, it appeared, because to finish the two-game set, the Huskies kept right on hitting, blitzing the Honkers 10-4 on another beautiful night at Wade on Tuesday for their sixth straight victory.

General McArthur IV doesn’t dawdle as he leaves home plate to beat out a hit. Photo credit: John Gilbert
General McArthur IV doesn’t dawdle as he leaves home plate to beat out a hit. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Christian Jones congratulated by manager Tyger Pederson as he heads home after a grand slam in Huskies 20-1 romp over Rochester last Monday. Photo credit: John Gilbert
Christian Jones congratulated by manager Tyger Pederson as he heads home after a grand slam in Huskies 20-1 romp over Rochester last Monday. Photo credit: John Gilbert

The season has shot by, however, and when the Huskies play host to Mankato Thursday and Friday, then Eau Claire Saturday and Sunday, the home schedule is finished for the regular season. The Huskies hit the road for the last six games, and they need to keep hitting and pitching to secure the second half and go into the playoffs.

During their second-half surge, the Huskies have moved some players up among league leaders. Augie Isaackson has led the team in hitting all season, and he’s still up there at .371. But almost quietly, Chris Gilbody has risen up over .350, while shortstop Nick Sogard has climbed to .300. General McArthur IV has made the biggest surge, sizzling at the plate and rising up toward the .300 mark after starting the season pretty much as a spare.

McArthur has had a series of multiple-hit games, spiked by his 4-for-5 in the 12-4 romp over Waterloo last Saturday, a game that included McArthur ripping his third home run of the season.McArthur, who might be the fastest runner on the club, actually is most comfortable at shortstop, but he hasn’t played a single game there, with Sogard a standout at that position. Without complaint, McArthur has played third, second, left field, right field — wherever he’s been asked to play by manager Tyler Pederson.

The pitching staff has clicked into focus too, with some strong performances in the last couple of weeks by the starters, and consistency — mostly — by the bullpen.

While a teammate hits the deck, Blake Biondi, left, pounces on a loose puck to score in Hermantown’s 6-0 semifinal victory over Benilde-St. Margaret’s at Mars Lakeview Arena. Photo credit: John Gilbert
While a teammate hits the deck, Blake Biondi, left, pounces on a loose puck to score in Hermantown’s 6-0 semifinal victory over Benilde-St. Margaret’s at Mars Lakeview Arena. Photo credit: John Gilbert

Hermantown in Midseason Form

Coach Pat Andrews celebrated his Hermantown hockey team’s championship at the Lakeview Summer Classic at Mars Lakeview Arena by taking his family for a driving trip to Yellowstone.But he’s already looking ahead to October and the start of the regular high school season.
The Hawks exceeded its coach’s expectations to win the title in convincing fashion, with a 7-1 blowout of Mahtomedi in Sunday’s title game. The Zephyrs scored the first goal, then got run into the ice by the Hawks, who got two goals each from senior Blake Biondi and sophomore defenseman Joey Pierce.
The same pair scored twice each in the semifinals, when Hermantown and Benilde-St. Margaret’s battled them close through a 1-0 first period, before Hermantown pulled away for a 6-0 victory.Hermantown’s biggest challenge came against Brainerd in the 5-4 opener.
“We were up 5-1, but we took our foot off the gas,” said Andrews, who is going into his second season as Hermantown head coach. “They came back and I think we learned a lesson about letting up.”
That didn’t happen in the semifinals, although Mahtomedi got a 1-0 jump on the Hawks in the final, before the Hermantown offense got going.”Cole Manahan made some big saves and gave us a big psychological edge,” Andrews said.
“We got some strong performances from our veterans, like Blake, but we also got very good performances from our younger players,” Andrews said. “We knew the young kids would help our depth a lot, but we weren’t sure how many were ready to step into key roles. I was happy to see that they appear to be ready. Now I’m really excited for the season to get here.”

Marshall, still missing head coach Brendan Flaherty, who is fighting cancer with some intense treatment, will have some rebuilding to do. The Hilltoppers were missing some players, and were not at their competitive best while playing host to the Lakeview Summer Classic that it won a year ago with a superb effort against Hermantown in the final.