By Luke Tanaka, Radio Broadcaster
Battle Creek, Mich. – The Wisconsin Woodchucks used a five-run third inning to take the lead and never looked back as the Battle Creek Bombers dropped a 7-2 decision, falling for the third game in a row.
Both pitchers cruised through the first two innings, as the Woodchucks recorded the only hit and base runner, a double by LJ Hatch (Johnson County CC) in the second.
In the third, the Woodchucks opened the scoring in a big way, putting five runs on the board. Bombers starter Griffin Weir (Stanford) allowed a leadoff double to Ryan Day (Duke). Day advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a passed ball. Weir struggled with his command for the rest of the inning, walking three batters in a row before inducing a lazy fly ball for out No. 2. On the first pitch of his at bat, Mason Fishback (Riverside City College), against his Riverside CC coach (Bombers field manager Rob Robinson), tucked a ball just over the left-center field fence for a grand slam.
The Bombers put together a rally in the third on three singles. Ryan Budnick (Santa Clara), Matt Simmons (Gardner-Webb), and Lin Li (Taiwan) all singled with Budnick scoring on Li’s base hit.
The Woodchucks extended their lead in the fourth with a pair of runs. Max Ponzurick (Virginia Tech) reached on an error by Li. With one out, Al Molina (Coastal Carolina) and Jared Oliva (Arizona) both recorded RBI singles as the Woodchucks took a 7-1 lead.
The Bombers once again plated a run in the fourth when Niko Pacheco (Cal State Fullerton) blasted a ball over the left-center field fence. Pacheco’s tape-measure shot, the longest at C.O. Brown Stadium this season, is estimated to have traveled 420 feet.
Weir’s first start of the year was a tough one, as he allowed seven runs (six earned) on hive hits in five innings of work. The walks cost Weir when he gave up the grand slam in the third. The Battle Creek bullpen was stellar as Fred Manke (Minnesota) and all-star Alex Hermeling (Ohio State) combined for four perfect innings.
Pacheco lifted the Battle Creek offense with his home run. Budnick (Santa Clara) went 2-for-3 with a couple of singles, a walk, and a run scored. Simmons also recorded a pair of singles. Li accounted for the second RBI, while Swain notched the final Battle Creek hit.
Jared Skolnicki (Kent State) received the win, tossing six innings of two-run ball, allowing six hits and a walk, while striking out six. The Wisconsin bullpen, Reagan Biechler (Wichita State) and Connor Kelly (Central Michigan) tossed three shutout innings, allowing just a walk.
Fishback propelled the Woodchucks offense with one swing of the bat, his grand slam to left-center field. Oliva added a hit, a run scored, and an RBI.
The Bombers look to snap their three-game losing streak tomorrow against the Woodchucks. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. It is also Freebie Friday presented by The Melges Group. There will be a Zebra Bobblehead giveaway to the first 500 fans courtesy of Binder Park Zoo. The Inflatamaniacs will also be performing.
The Battle Creek Bombers are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). For more information, visit www.battlecreekbombers.com.
(Story photo courtesy of Battle Creek Photography and Design – Levi Green)