Duluth Huskies manager Daniel Hersey waited until the last possible minute to play his ace in the hole against the Bismarck Larks on Friday.
With the Huskies clinging to a 9-7 lead and two on in the eighth, Hersey brought on Kevin Folman to finish things up and the North Dakota State product did just that.
Folman retired all four Larks he faced to earn his eighth save of the season. He was the sixth pitcher used by the Huskies to earn their Northwoods League split.
Folman threw just nine pitches. He struck out Ryan Anderson on three pitches to end the eighth, got two one-pitch groundouts in the ninth and struck out Cooper Coldiron on four pitches to end the game.
“It’s what I’m trained to do, I guess. It’s what you have to do to be a closer, come in close games,” said Folman, the last of six Duluth pitchers. “It feels good. I love to be in those situations.”
The Huskies (15-16) scored five runs with two outs in the third inning and kept getting timely hits. They left just four runners on base. The Larks, on the other hand, stranded 11.
Chase Strumpf had two hits, including a homer, drove in three and scored twice.
Camryn Williams and Augie Isaacson also had two hits.
Noah Sadler had three hits, including two doubles for the Larks (15-17), who outhit the Huskies 12-11.
Three innings into the game, it was 5-5 and both starters were done. Duluth’s Nick Scheidler gave up six hits and five runs, while Bismarck’s Alex Ross was tagged for seven hits and five runs in the third.
The Larks picked up where they left off Thursday, jumping on the Huskies for two runs in the first inning off UCLA pitcher Nick Scheidler.
Leadoff hitter Connor Perry walked and scored on Mitch Gallagher’s double down the left-field line. Gallagher went to third on a throw to the plate and scored when Austin Paschke flied out to deep right.
They tacked on three more hits in the second to go up 3-0. Newt Johnson singled and went to second on Cooper Coldiron’s infield single. Perry drove Johnson home with a single to right with two outs.
But this time, Duluth took the lead in the third after Larks’ right-fielder Sadler threw out Kyle Hubbuch at the plate for a double play. The Huskies then banged out four straight hits – seven in the inning – to plate five runs.
The Larks tied it 5-5 with two runs in the third. Johnson walked with the bases loaded to force in Paschke and Luke Horanski drove in Sadler with a sac fly to right.
Strumpf hit his first homer of the year to left to lead off the fifth against the Larks’ Carson Selin, giving the Huskies a 6-5 lead. The Huskies made it 7-5 when Williams singled to center, stole second and went to third on a groundout before scoring Luke Roskam’s sac fly.
Not to be outdone, Anderson drilled his first homer of the season to left leading off the fifth but the Larks left two on base for the fourth straight inning.
The Huskies piled on two more run in the sixth to go up 9-6 before Sadler’s double in the eighth brought in Paschke to make it 9-7. After Joe Gonrowski walked Scooter Bynum, Folman came on and closed it out.