NWL Roundup 6/22

Eau Claire 11 – Waterloo 9

What shortstop Michael Giller (Illinois) gave a crowd of better than 1100 fans at historic Riverfront Stadium in the bottom of the eighth Monday night, the Northwoods League South Division leading Eau Claire Express took away in the top of ninth en route to an 11-9 win. With two outs and the bases loaded in the eighth, enter Giller, stage left. He waited the count out to 3-2 and then delivered a Drew Kendrick (University of Texas at Permian Basin) pitch over the right field wall for a 9-5 lead. Giller ended the evening with two hits and five at-bats, sparking a team offensive output that featured seven hits. Eau Claire (16-5) answered with six runs in the ninth. A pair of two-run doubles from left fielder Robbie Knight (Creighton) and shortstop Andrew Leonard (University of Illinois at Chicago) tied the game at 9-9 and a bases-loaded walk to second baseman Drew Heithoff (Augustana University of South Dakota) overturned the deficit. NWL saves leader Devan Kline (Central Michigan) sealed the deal with a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth. Kline has been perfect on the year and is now 10-10 in save opportunities. Joseph Lopez (South Mountain CC) started pitching for the Express. Lopez went 4.1 innings and allowed four runs. Drew Kendrick (pictured) allowed the four runs in the eighth but earned the victory for the Express. Several Express hitters had two hits on the night and seven of the nine starters collected at least one hit. Robbie Knight (Creighton) led the team with three RBIs on the night.

Alexandria 3 – Duluth 0

Matt Fyffe (Eastern Kentucky) was sensational on the hill, and the Beetles found just enough offensive support to blank the Duluth Huskies 3-0 at Wade Stadium.  Fyffe (1-1) surrendered six hits in the complete game shutout, walking two while striking out a season high five. Justin Leith (Florida International) took the loss despite throwing very well for the Huskies. The left-hander worked into the eighth inning, giving up two runs (one earned) while allowing just four hits. Scoring was held to a minimum, with the Beetles plating the only run through seven innings. With two out in the second, Wes Patterson (UT-Martin) lined a base hit up the middle to score Tim Roberson (FGCU). Both pitchers then locked into a duel.  Fyffe didn’t allow a runner past second base all night, while Leith went four straight innings without allowing a hit. There was a scary moment in the eighth inning, as Alexandria began to pull away. After Patterson doubled to start the inning, Mike O’Neill (USC) laid down a perfect bunt. Third baseman Andy Burns (Kentucky) made a bare-handed play, but the throw was down the line, forcing first baseman Nick Rickles (Stetson) to move in front of the bag. The two collided as the ball deflected off of O’Neill.  Both were shaken up on the play, but it was O’Neill taking the brunt of collision. The everyday center-fielder, who had started his 98th straight Northwoods League game, was helped off the field and taken to a Duluth hospital.  Early reports show a sprain or possible break of a bone in O’Neill’s left leg near his ankle. A better idea of his status will be available early Tuesday. The Beetles were able to tack on one more run in the eighth, which proved to be plenty of support for Fyffe, who wins for the first time this year.