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NWL Roundup 6/18

Duluth 5 – Rochester 2

On a day where both teams struggled to score runs, Duluth was able to push across three unearned runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to take a late lead and hang on to earn a win over the Honkers, 5-2. Rochester fell to 11-8 with the loss, while Duluth improved to 10-11 overall on the year. Shortly before the game it was poring rain, but the skies cleared and it turned into a fabulous day for baseball. The defense, however, was less than fabulous, as each team committed three errors in the game, and the Honkers would take advantage of three Duluth miscues in the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. But Duluth would correct their defense, and hold Rochester to just a single run the rest of the way. The Huskies tied the game quickly, scoring an unearned run in the second to tie the game at one. The teams stayed scoreless until the seventh, when the Huskies scored to take a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly by Zach Walters (San Diego). Rochester answered quickly, getting their only other run of the game on a deep home run to left off the bat of Rance Roundy (UNLV) to tie it back up at two heading into the ninth inning. Scott McGough (Oregon) had started the inning for Rochester on the mound, and the Honkers turned to closer Arik Sikula (Marshall) with one out and two runners on. Sikula picked up a strikeout and then seemed to escape the inning when he induced a soft ground ball off the bat of Jerico Weitzel (Florida). Corey Jones (Cal State Fullerton), who had entered the game as a pinch hitter and stayed in the game to play shortstop for Rochester, bobbled the ball and was unable to get an out. A run scored on the play to give Duluth a 3-2 lead, and the Huskies pushed across two more runs on a bases-loaded walk and an RBI single by Tim Jobe (Florida International). Rochester was unable to muster anything in the bottom of the ninth, and the game ended at 5-2. Drew Gagnon (Long Beach State) got the start for Rochester, and pitched six strong innings, allowing just an unearned run and striking out seven but took a no-decision in the game. The loss was charged to McGough, who was responsible for the runner scoring on the error by Jones and fell to 0-1. Duluth’s starter, Jeff Rydman (Campbell) was just as effective, going 5.1 innings allowing just an unearned run but also took a no-decision. Alex Kent (Central Missouri) earned the win in relief for the Huskies to move to 3-2, while Matt Patterson (Creighton) earned his fifth save of the season with a perfect ninth. Roundy paced the Honkers offense by going 3-for-4 with the solo homer and two singles. Jobe had three hits for Duluth in five at-bats.

Brainerd 5 – Alexandria 2

Even with a 51-minute weather delay, the Lunkers knocked off the Alexandria Beetles, 5-2 in Game One of their series at Knute Nelson Park. Justin Gominsky (Minnesota) led off the first with a double to the left-center gap and came around to score on a passed ball to put the Lunkers up, 1-0. The Beetles came back though, and tied up the game on an RBI single. In the fourth, the Beetles took the lead after a series of defensive errors. However, that was the last time they scored. A leadoff walk to Michael Gedman (UMass) in the fifth set up an RBI single by Mike Martinez (Florida International) to tie the game up at two. Then in the sixth, with nasty weather rolling in, David Valesente (St. Joseph) blasted a pitch over the centerfield wall for the solo homer. After the weather delay, the Lunkers plated two more in the eighth. Gominsky and Andrew Gudmunson (North Dakota) both scored to finalize the game. Gominsky led the offense by going 3-for-5 with a double, two singles, and two runs scored. On the hill, Taylor Babich (Rhodes College) went five innings, struck out two, and allowed only one earned run to pick up his second victory.

Green Bay 5 – La Crosse 1

Riley Henricks and Joel Hutter each hit their first home runs of the season and Aaron Conway stole three bases as Green Bay took down La Crosse, 5-1, Thursday night at Copeland Park. Henricks (Portland) crushed his home in the opening frame to give the Bullfrogs an early lead, while Hutter (Des Moines Area CC) increased Green Bay’s advantage with a two-run homer in the fourth frame. While the ball was flying out of the park at the plate for the Bullfrogs, Conway (Missouri State) was once again stealing bases. He stole his first and second bases of the night in the third inning, before taking his third bag in the final frame. Conway has stolen 13 bases in the last five games and leads the Northwoods League with 19 stolen bases. Nick O’Shea (Minnesota) led the Bullfrogs at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance, including a run and a RBI. He also recorded a double to extend his lead on the Green Bay all-time doubles list. La Crosse knotted the contest at a run apiece in the second frame, when Chris Engell (San Deigo) hit a RBI single scoring Tony Mueller (Winona State), who reached on a single and stole second. Conway reached on a throwing error in the third and then stole second and third. He scored on a strikeout passed ball to give Green Bay a 2-1 advantage. O’Shea recorded his third hit of the night – RBI single – plating Henricks for the second time on the night, to push the Bullfrogs advantage out to 5-1 in the fifth inning. Joel Delorit (UW-Stevens Point) earned the win for Green Bay, tossing six innings of two-hit ball. He struck out two and gave up the Loggers only run of the night. Tyler Lorenz (UW-Stevens Point) and Zach Varce (Portland) threw three hitless innings for the Bullfrogs out of the bullpen. Matt Bywater (Pepperdine) took the loss for the Loggers, giving up five runs – four earned – and seven hits.

Mankato 9 – Thunder Bay 2

The Mankato MoonDogs rode the bats of Kyle Knudson and Brian Haar early on against Thunder Bay Thursday, as the Dogs improved their sterling home record to 9-2 as they topped Thunder Bay 6-0 at Franklin Rogers Park. Knudson (Minnesota) finished the game 2-4 with one run, a double and two RBI. Haar finished 1-3 with a home run and three RBI. The MoonDogs (14-7) did all their damage in the first and third innings, putting up four in the first and two in the latter. The first four batters of the game reached for the MoonDogs, as Knudson came up with a two-run single to highlight a big first. Haar (San Diego), who came into the game without an extra-base hit in 30 at-bats, cracked his first homer as a MoonDog, knocking in Knudson with a towering blast to left center for the final MoonDog runs and a 6-0 lead. James Wise (Washington State) started the game and earned the win (1-0), throwing six innings and striking out eight while allowing just five hits. Chris Garrison (Oregon) made his first appearance as a MoonDog by throwing two innings, and Jimmy Patterson (Central Arizona) hurled the ninth, as the staff combined for their fourth shutout of the season. Randy Mower (St. Joseph’s) settled down nicely after the third, going seven innings for the Border Cats (4-17) allowing just two hits after giving up the six runs. He took the loss falling to 1-2 on the summer. With the win, the MoonDogs moved two games ahead of second place Rochester, as they lost earlier in the day to Duluth.

Eau Claire 5 – Battle Creek 4

The Eau Claire Express got the best of the Battle Creek Bombers in a back-and-forth struggle tonight, winning 5-4. The Bombers led in 4-3 going into the ninth inning, but the Express were determined to hold onto the division lead. Andrew Leonard (UIC) started the ninth inning rally with a double, and eventually scored the tying run on a double by pinch hitter Dominic Piazza (Yavapai). Then, with 1 out and runners on 2nd and 3rd, Express 3rd baseman Matt Fritz (Bradley) executed a suicide squeeze to perfection, bringing in the game-winning run. Eau Claire’s rally came right after a Bombers’ eighth inning rally, led by right fielder Chris Lewis (Western Michigan). Down 1 run, Lewis hit a clutch RBI triple, scoring the go-ahead run 2 batters later. The Bombers threatened to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, getting the leadoff batter Doug Otto (VCU) to 3rd base with only 1 out. But Express closer Devan Kline (Central Michigan) recorded the final 2 outs, earning his first victory of the season. Kline grew up in Battle Creek, MI, and although the home team lost, many of the 1,143 Bombers fans at C.O. Brown Stadium applauded him for his efforts. Kline has yet to give up an earned run this season, and leads the league with 8 saves.

Madison 4 – Wisconsin 1

Derek Self, welcome to Madison. Two days after arriving to the Capital City, the soon-to-be sophomore Louisville pitcher didn’t disappoint in his first start, shutting down the Wisconsin Woodchucks to give the Mallards a 4-1 victory Thursday night in Wausau. Self (1-0) only allowed three hits during his six innings of work while striking out three batters and walking just one. He was in control of the game from the very first pitch and didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning on a base-knock by second baseman Mike Mutcheson (New Mexico JC). J.R. Graham (Santa Clara) relieved Self in the seventh inning and threw three innings for his first save of the season, while allowing one earned run on a two-out RBI single by Troy Frazier (Kentucky) in the seventh frame. Coming into the contest the Mallards (15-6) offense knew they had their work cut out for themselves in facing right-hander Bobby Pritchett (1-2) (Central Arkansas), who threw a no-hitter in his last start on June 12 against the Green Bay Bullfrogs. They were certainly up to the challenge and were able to tag Pritchett for four runs during his 5.1 innings of work, including a two-RBI night off two solo home runs by designated hitter Joe Patterson (Texas A&M). Those shots came in the fourth and sixth innings. Second baseman Mark Ginther (Oklahoma State) also added a solo shot in the second inning, his second of the year.

Waterloo 9 – St. Cloud 8

With the two sides combining for nine runs in the sixth inning alone, the home-standing Waterloo Bucks pushed across two runs to rally past the visiting St. Cloud River Bats 9-8 Thursday. The win opened a six-game home stand for the Blue, Gold and White (7-14) and continued a recent hot streak for manager Peter Lauritson’s squad as they have now won four of their last five. The River Bats (7-14) used a 13-hit barrage to hold as large as a 7-1 lead at one point, while the Bucks turned in 13 hits as well. Waterloo’s ninth inning heroics came from shortstop Michael Giller (Illinois) ripping a two-out, two-strike double to right to score pinch runner Chris Pack (Villanova) to tie it and then right fielder Jason Krizan (Dallas Baptist) hammered a 3-2 single just past the out-stretched glove of St. Cloud second baseman Tony Renda (California) to plate Giller with the winner. Giller ended the game three for five with three RBIs. St. Cloud’s offense was topped by the trio of Danny Oh (California), Dan Bettridge (Rutgers) and Nick Longmire (Pacific). They each ended with three hits.