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Duluth Huskies' Conor Szczerba (10) beats the tag of Madison Mallards' Brock Stewart (0) at third base in the first inning of Game 1 of the Northwoods League championship series at Warner Park in Madison on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. (M.P. King / Wisconsin State Journal)

Huskies fall to Mallards in Northwoods League championship series opener

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Alex Bacon hit a three-run home run for the second straight game to lead the Madison Mallards to a 10-7 victory over the Duluth Huskies in Game 1 of the Northwoods League championship series on Thursday night before 2,117 at Warner Park in Madison.

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The loss snapped the Huskies' nine-game winning streak and leaves them needing two straight home victories to capture their first Northwoods League title. Game 2 is 6:35 p.m. today at Wade Stadium.

Bacon hit a three-run shot in the top of the ninth inning of the Mallards' 5-3 victory over the Lakeshore Chinooks on Wednesday in the deciding Game 3 of the South Divisional series. This time, he connected in the fifth inning off Duluth starter Parker Trewin, capping a six-run rally.

Down 7-4, the Huskies came back, as they have done so many times this season. Duluth scored two runs in the seventh and another in the eighth but couldn't keep pace with the Mallards, who matched each of the Huskies' late-inning runs.

John LaPrise had four hits to lead Madison (44-30), which had 14 hits.

Duluth (45-28) collected eight hits and had five walks but struck out 10 times. Keith Curcio led the offense with three hits while Christoph Bono added a solo home run.

The Huskies are playing in their second championship series but have never won the league title after getting swept 2-0 by Madison in 2004. It is their fourth playoff appearance but first since 2007.

CHAPMAN A NO GO

Duluth general manager Craig Smith said ace Clay Chapman of Florida Southern cannot pitch on Saturday if the Huskies force a deciding Game 3 because of Northwoods League rules.

With 105 pitches in Duluth's 5-2 victory over the Waterloo Bucks on Monday, Chapman topped the 100-pitch count, meaning he has to sit five days before pitching again.

Smith expected right-hander Luke Vandermaten of Iowa Central Community College to start for the Huskies on the mound today. Vandermaten is 2-3 with a 4.02 ERA this season.

Andrew Arenson (2-0, 2.79 ERA) is expected to start for Madison.

"Pitching always runs thin this time of year," Smith said. "We'll see what they've got in their arsenal, and we'll see what we've got in our arsenal."

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