Northwoods League baseball: Despite setback, Huskies hope to ‘take care of business’ in push for title – Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Shortstop Kristian Campbell came late to the Duluth Huskies roster, so forgive Georgia Tech’s product for thinking he was playing summer ball for a baseball team in Duluth, Georgia, not Duluth 1,199 miles north.

“My parents said, ‘No, you’re going to Minnesota,’ and I said, ‘Okay, cool.'”

How cool?

The maximum temperature in Duluth, Georgia on Wednesday was 88 degrees. The game temperature for Wednesday’s Duluth Huskies Northwoods League competition against the Rochester Honkers was 48.

Campbell doesn’t care. He just wants to play.

“It’s not that bad,” he said. “We’ve had a few games earlier in the season that were colder than this one.”

Campbell is even starting to sound like a Minnesotan.

Campbell did his part with a hit, hit by pitch, walk and two stolen bases in addition to being flawless on the field, but it wasn’t enough as the Huskies fell 6-2 ahead of 514 at Wade Stadium.

Luckily for the Huskies, Willmar defeated Eau Claire 10-2 on Wednesday, leaving the Express in the Great Plains East a 1.5-game lead.

Devin Hurdle (16) of the Duluth Huskies jumps around home plate while scoring a run against the Rochester Honkers on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at Wade Stadium in Duluth.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

Duluth has five games left in the first half, which concludes with games on Monday, July 4, before a league-wide rest day on Tuesday.

“We feel like we’re in a pretty decent place where we’re good at taking care of business,” Huskies coach Marcus Pointer said.

The winner of each half earns a spot in the NWL Playoffs (if the same team wins both halves, second spot goes to the next best overall record).

Duluth had back-to-back wins after beating Bismarck 7-2, 12-8 over the weekend before falling out on Monday and Tuesday.

“I’m always improving and I’m always trying to help my team win games,” Campbell said. “I feel like that’s the main part of it at the moment. We’re going to the end so we’re just going to try to win those last few games before halftime and I’ll try to do whatever it takes to help us with that.

Duluth (15-13) certainly had his chances to win Wednesday but left 10 men on base and made three errors. Hudson was the only Duluth player with multiple hits with two, including a double, RBI and run, while starting pitcher Harrison Kreiling of Nebraska Omaha conceded two runs in five innings.

Nathan Hansen allowed two runs in five innings to earn the win for Rochester (13-16) while three Honkers reliefs kept the Huskies to one hit and no runs in the last four innings.

Campbell came into the contest second in the Huskies with a .363 batting average (catcher Eddy Rosario was first with .369) while leading the team with 21 RBIs. Second in the league with 15 stolen bases, Campbell certainly helped his cause in that department against Rochester. At 6-foot-3 and at great speed, he also covers a lot of ground briefly.

Pointer sees Campbell as a potential draft.

“He was great,” Pointer said. “He came with the intention of playing at a high level and he did just that. He was a perfect fit for us.”

Baseball players in white and blue uniforms playing a game at outdoor stadium

Kristian Campbell (24) of the Duluth Huskies bats the ball against the Rochester Honkers on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at Wade Stadium in Duluth.

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

With Campbell at the helm, the Huskies finished tied seventh in the 22-team Northwoods League Wednesday with 111 stolen bases in 27 games.

“We run one to nine,” Pointer said. “I know some other parks are much smaller and teams are building them to try and get out of the yard. We can’t necessarily build our list like this because the calf is so big. We built our team on speed, and speed never falters. It can be applied to any field, any park.”

The Huskies rank sixth with a team batting average of .262. Duluth’s Team ERA finished in 18th place but was usually improved under Pointer in the second half.

“We’re engaged,” Pointer said. “We had a really difficult period on the road and it was tough. Many of the guys had never experienced an eight-day road trip before. We took our nuggets but they came back and did the business at home.”

The huskies enjoyed their days off on Monday and Tuesday, which also marked Campbell’s 20th birthday. He celebrated by going out with his teammates. He bought a Dave’s Burger at Famous Dave’s in Canal Park. Then they went to the cinema to see Top Gun: Maverick.

“I liked it. It was fun,” said Campbell, who just finished his freshman year at Georgia Tech and just needs experience. “I’m having a good time. I’m very happy with the progress I’ve made, but I’m not happy where I am. I will keep working to get better every day and I look forward to coming back to Georgia to show them what I can do there.”

Baseball players in white and blue uniforms playing a game at outdoor stadium

Kristian Campbell (24) of the Duluth Huskies steals third base against the Rochester Honkers on Wednesday, June 29, 2022 at Wade Stadium in Duluth

Clint Austin/Duluth News Tribune

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