NWL Roundup 7/12

Rochester 5 – Mankato 3 (14 Inn.)

Danny Pulfer ended a three-hour, 59-minute marathon with a two-run double in the top of the 14th to give Rochester a 5-3 victory over Mankato Sunday evening at Franklin Rogers Park. Pulfer (Oregon), who was brought into the game in the 12th inning as a pinch-runner, laced a line drive down the left field line off Alex Burgos (State College of Florida) that scored both Scott Berke (UNLV) and Aaron Dunsmore (Dayton) for the winning runs. The MoonDogs had to come back in the ninth to force the extra baseball, as they posted a run in the bottom of the ninth off Rochester closer Arik Sikula (Marshall). Kyle Knudson (Minnesota) walked to start the inning and advanced to second on a Ryan Durant (Iowa) groundout. Bryan Haar (San Diego) came up big for the second night in a row, drilling a single through the left side to tie the game at three. Haar (San Diego) had another great night at the plate, going 3-4 with two RBI to lead the MoonDogs (27-15, 4-5). For Sikula it was his second blown saves in as many nights, as he gave up a three-run lead last night to Thunder Bay. The long ball accounted for much of the scoring early on in the game, as Knudson launched a solo shot in the fourth inning to make it a 2-0 MoonDogs lead. The Honkers (27-15, 8-2) used two long balls of their own to take the lead. In the seventh, Rance Roundy (UNLV) drilled a solo shot to cut the MoonDog lead to 2-1. Corey Jones (Cal St. Fullerton) then added to his league lead in home runs off Mankato starter Tim Griffin (Rollins), belting a line shot over the right field wall for his 11th to give Honkers the 3-2 lead before the Dogs came back to tie in the ninth. Griffin pitched well despite the home runs, striking out four and allowing just five hits in seven and one-thirds innings. Burgos suffered the loss despite pitching valiantly in relief. The two runs he allowed in the 14th were unearned, as he pitched four and two-thirds innings, allowing just two hits and striking out six. Scott McGough (Oregon) earned the win, pitching a perfect two innings. All total, both teams used a combined nine pitchers. Despite most of the lineup getting six at-bats, Drew Beuerlein (UNLV) was the only Honker with multiple hits, as he went 2-5 with two doubles. It was the second time this season the Dogs and Honkers played 14 innings, as the two squads played a suspended, 14-frame affair in the season’s second game.

Battle Creek 6 – Madison 1 (Game 2)

Battle Creek capitalized on two Madison errors and 10 walks by the Mallard pitching staff to come away with a 6-1 win in front of 6,861 fans in game one of a day/night doubleheader at the “Duck Pond” on Sunday afternoon. Madison starter Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) gave up a run while striking out four and walking six in five innings of work. Esch ran into his first bit of trouble in the fourth when he walked the first two batters to lead off the inning. The righty battled through and got Greg Fujii (San Jose City) to pop out and then made an athletic play going away from the first base bag to retire Alan Denman (USC Sumter) by a step on a sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Craig Denman (Mercy Hurst), then popped out to second to end the inning. Hicks broke the scoreless tie with his second home run of the year in the bottom of the fourth. Unlike his first one, this round tripper was no blast, in fact it was a fly ball to right field that skipped by the second baseman, Doug Otto (Virginia Commonwealth), who went out of his way to get to it before crashing into the wall that juts out down the right field line. There was confusion among the Battle Creek defense whether it was a foul ball and the distraction of Otto’s collision allowed Hicks to come all the way around to score without even a throw to the plate. Otto would stay in the game, but Battle Creek found itself down 1-0. The Bombers got even in the next half inning when Esch had difficulty finding the strike zone. He gave up a pair of singles and a pair of walks, one which forced in the tying run in the form of Otto. He came back to strike out Parker Barberet (Cypress) and then got Fujii to fly out to left to end the inning, leaving the bases loaded for Battle Creek. In the seventh inning, the Mallards put runners on second and third courtesy of an error on the Battle Creek shortstop, Fujii, to put Kurtis Muller (Iowa) on to lead off the frame. with two outs, Mark Ginther (Oklahoma State) stepped to the plate with a chance to give the Mallards a lead late in the game, but Battle Creek starter, Josh McElwee (Newberry), got him looking with three straight to end the inning. The Bombers took advantage of two wild pitches in the eighth inning by reliever Brandon Johnson (Western Carolina). A run scored on each of them, one of which was unearned and charged to Brad Allen (Elgin CC) who allowed just two hits over 2.1 innings. He was the hard-luck loser despite a good showing on the mound. With two outs and the bases loaded for the Bombers the top of the ninth, an error on the shortstop Ginther prolonged the inning and allowed two big insurance runs to score. Denman added one more run for good measure with an RBI single through the left side to make it 6-1 Bombers and that’s how the game would conclude. After hitting two home runs yesterday, the Mallards failed to hit one in game one of Sunday’s doubleheader. Timely hitting was another issue in game one. The Mallards managed to finish with the same amount of hits as Battle Creek, eight, but they left 12 runners on base. Riggins finished the day 3-for-5 at the plate while five other Mallards recorded one hit apiece.

Battle Creek 6 – Madison 1

The Mallards (6-4, 25-19) were unable to overcome a rough first inning during Sunday’s game two of a day-night doubleheader in a 6-1 loss to the Battle Creek Bombers in front of 4,572 fans at the “Duck Pond.” In that first inning Mallards starting pitcher Jordan Hershiser (USC) led off the game by hitting left fielder Chris Bangi (Campbell). After a strikeout by second baseman Doug Otto (Virginia Commonwealth), that allowed Bangi to advance to second, Hershiser then proceeded to walk designated hitter Chris Lewis (Western Michigan) to put two men on. The theme continued as Josh Valle (Marshall) was then walked by Hershiser to load the bases and bring catcher Parker Berberet (Cypress College) to the plate. The Mallards 6’8″ right hander was able to bear down and strike out Berberet, and it appeared that he’d be able to get out of the jam. However, an error by third baseman Troy Channing (St. Mary’s) on a ball hit by Matt Miraldi (Cal State L.A.) allowed the Bombers to score two runs to take the first lead. Madison would answer in the third after center fielder Kurtis Muller (Iowa) led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a one-out stolen base during Harold Riggins’ (NC State). After Riggins eventually struck out, first baseman John Hicks (Virginia) strolled to the plate and laced a base knock to score Muller and cut the Bombers’ lead to one. However, that would be the only time the Mallards crossed home plate, as the Bombers (6-4, 27-16) were able to tally four more scores, two in the sixth and two in the eighth inning to push the final score to 6-1. In the sixth, Otto added to the lead by hitting a two-run homer to the Mallards bullpen in left field to score Bangi who earlier walked. Even though he didn’t allow a base hit, Hershiser (1-2) was saddled with the loss after walking five batters and allowing two runs (0 earned). He also struck out five batters. Bombers’ starter Matt Talley (The Citadel) picked up the win (5-2) after allowing only one run in seven innings while striking out five. Muller led the Madison offense with a 3-for-4 day and a run scored. He is now hitting .302 on the year.

La Crosse 7 – Eau Claire 4 (11 Inn.)

It took eleven innings but the La Crosse Loggers were able to defeat the Eau Claire Express 7-4 Sunday night at Copeland Park in dramatic fashion.  The fans remaining from the original 2,860 in attendance got quite a treat as they watched Justin Prekajlo hit a walk off grand slam to capture the victory and move La Crosse in to first place in the south division. The Express took an early lead in the top of the second when Matt Fritz (Bradley) hit and RBI single to take the 1-0 lead, but in the bottom of the inning La Crosse was able to get the lead due to an RBI double by Nick Baligod (Oral Roberts) and an RBI single by Chris Engell (San Diego).  Loggers starting first baseman Greg Holt (UNC) extended his hit streak to a now franchise record 16 games as he homered in the fourth inning to extend the lead 3-1.  After getting a run in the seventh inning, Eau Claire was able to tie the game in the eighth due to a run scoring on a wild pitch by relief pitcher Troy Watson (Sacramento C.C.).  The game would remained tied and go into extra innings after La Crosse left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.  Eau Claire would take the one run lead in the 11th on an RBI fielders choice by Andrew Leonard (UIC), but La Crosse would answer back.  With two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eleventh Justin Prekajlo hit a walk off grand slam over the left field wall to derail the Express and move La Crosse into first place. Loggers starting pitcher Steven Gruver (Tennessee) pitched six innings giving up five hits and allowing one un-earned run in the no decision.  The winning pitcher for La Crosse was Jordan McClintick (Loyola Marymount) who pitched the final two innings allowing only two hits to pick up his second win of the year.  Prekajlo only had the one hit on the night but it was the biggest one of the game as it drove in the final four runs.

Green Bay 1 – Alexandria 0

It was Craig Gullickson’s afternoon at Jones Sign Field at Joannes Stadium as he outperformed Chase Porch with 8 innings of one-hit ball against the Alexandria Beetles on Sunday afternoon for a 1-0 victory. Gullickson (Clemson) fanned eight batters tying his season-high in strikeouts, which recorded in his last outing. Throughout his eight innings on the hill, he tallied six 1-2-3 frames to earn his fourth win of the season and second consecutive. Alex Schmarzo (Saint Mary’s) entered in the closing inning and shut the door on Alexandria with a strikeout to earn his third save of the season. The Green Bay offense recorded three hits on the evening, but it was Jacob House’s (Arkansas) game-winning base knock in the sixth frame that drove Tony Jandron (St. Norbert) across the plate. Along with House’s single, Paul Hoenecke (UW-Milwaukee) and Nick O’Shea (Minnesota) also reached on singles. Mikel Alvarez (Florida Gulf Coast) tallied the Beetles only hit on the afternoon with a single in the third. Alexandria totaled just four base runners on the evening – two on walks, one on a throwing error, and the single. Porch (North Alabama) took the loss despite throwing seven innings, allowing three hits and a run. He struck out four, walked two, and plunked a batter.

Waterloo 8 – Thunder Bay 7

A two-out double steal in the eighth inning, coupled with some strong relief pitching from closer Zach Cooper (Central Michigan), led Waterloo to a 7-6 win over Thunder Bay Sunday afternoon. A crowd of 1,178 fans got their money’s worth and more. The Bucks took a quick 3-1 lead in the first on designated hitter Pat Stover’s (Santa Clara) first home run but had to fend off rallies from the Border Cats throughout the remainder of the game. TB held a 6-4 advantage after five and a half but another three-run rally for the home side in the 6th made it 7-6. After the visitors tied the score with a run in the 7th, Waterloo put runners on first and third in the eighth with two outs. The double steal came up next with center fielder Willie Argo (Illinois) crossing the plate with the eventual winning run. Cooper’s ninth inning work produced his third save of the season. It also made a winner out of Tim Ryan (Minnesota), the first of his Northwoods League career.

Brainerd 6 – Duluth 3

Hunter Nolen (Northern Colorado) finished 3-for-4 at the plate to lead the Lunkers to the 6-3 victory over the Duluth Huskies in Game One of their series at Mills Field. The win marks the third time this season the Lunkers have won three in a row. Nolen belted an RBI triple in the first to give the Lunkers their first lead, and followed with a single in the third. Then in the seventh, he busted the game open with his 2-RBI double to left-center that one-hopped the warning track. He also scored a run in the seventh, and had his hand in four of the six Lunker runs on the afternoon. Trailing, 2-1 heading into the second, Duluth answered back. A leadoff double gave way to an RBI single to knot the game up at two. However, Nate Hammes (St. Cloud State) untied the ballgame in the bottom of the second with his sacrifice fly to center that scored Shon Roe (Loyola Marymount). The Huskies pulled even in the fourth on a two-out rally that featured a pair of singles and a walk. The game remained tied until Nolen opened the floodgates on Duluth in the seventh. Starter Mike Gedman (UMass) tossed six innings, allowed three runs on ten hits, walked just one, and struck out four in the no decision. Matt Mullendore (Hamline) worked a scoreless seventh and picked up his first victory in a Lunker uniform, and Joey Van Cleave (Santa Rosa JC) earned his first save of the year. For the second consecutive night, Shon Roe and Mike Kvasnicka (Minnesota) pitched in two hits apiece.

St. Cloud 6 – Wisconsin 5

The St. Cloud River Bats earned a 5-4 win over the Wisconsin Woodchucks in front of 1,308 fans at Athletic Park on Sunday. Drew Palen (2-1) pitched 3 2/3 hitless innings in relief of Nick Sutherland to lead a St. Cloud bullpen that shut out Wisconsin over the final 5 2/3 innings. Each team scored twice in the first inning. Tony Renda and Matt Summers had RBI singles for St. Cloud, and Brett Krill tied the game 2-2 with a two-run double. The Bats retook the lead in the second against Kyle Gumieny (2-5). Adam Weisenburger reached on an error, and came around to score when the Woodchucks committed another error on the same play as a bunt single by Brian Humphries. The Woodchucks answered in the fourth inning, when Chad Wright hit a two-run single to right field to give Wisconsin a 4-3 lead. After Sutherland hit a batter to load the bases with one out, Palen entered the game, and induced an inning-ending double play. Nick Longmire tied the game in the fifth with a solo home run, his fourth round-tripper of the season. The score remained 4-4 until the seventh. Jonathan Roof drew a walk, advanced to second on Danny Oh’s sacrifice, and reached third on a wild pitch. Zac Richard appeared to pop out to end the inning, but third baseman Casey Rihn dropped the ball, allowing Roof to score the go-ahead run. Andrew Burkett took over for Palen and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, striking out two batters. Xavier Esquivel struck out the first batter of the ninth inning. After allowing back-to-back singles, he got Krill to ground into a game-ending double play, the third of the contest turned by St. Cloud. Esquivel earned his fourth save. Matt Summers finished with three hits, while Brian Humphries, Danny Oh, and Nick Longmire each had two. The Bats had 12 in the game.