Thunder Bay 2 – Mankato 0
Luis Castillo (Bellevue) came within three outs of the fifth no hitter in the league this season
as Thunder Bay blanked Mankato 2-0. Castillo (3-2), had allowed only two base runners on a pair of errors when he gave up an infield single to pinch hitter Nick Judkins (Iowa Central CC) leading off the ninth. The righthander from Burlington, Ontario gave up a second hit and left the game going eight plus innings, allowing two hits, with no walks and twelve strikeouts. Drew Erwin (Nicholls State) got the final three outs for his third save as the Border Cats improved to 13-11. Thunder Bay scored both of its runs in the first inning on run scoring singles by David Phillips (Ole Miss) and A.J. Schugel (Central Arizona College. The loss dropped Mankato’s record to 11-14. The game was delayed 45 minutes due to heavy rains earlier in the day in Thunder Bay.
La Crosse 8 – Madison 7
The La Crosse Loggers stormed back to score three runs in the ninth inning after the Mallards had retaken the lead on a Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) two-run homer in the eighth to win 8-7 and put them one-half game ahead of Madison with 10 games left in the second half. The wild back-and-forth contest saw La Crosse jump to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning as leadoff man Austin Knight (Dallas Baptist) started the game with a walk and the next two batters in Chris Engell (San Diego) and Robert Brantly (UC Riverside) recored base hits to load the bases. Right fielder Justin Preckajlo (North Florida) then hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Knight. Luckily, Mallards pitcher Nick Rice (MATC), who made his first start of the season tonight, was then able to induce a 4-6-3 double play by Nick Baligod to end the threat. Madison stormed right back in the bottom half to score three runs, all with two outs, as designated hitter Harold Riggins (NC State) was able to drive in two runs on single to score Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana) and Joe Patterson (Texas A&M) who were on with consecutive hit-by-pitches. Esch then hit a single to left field to score Troy Channing (St. Mary’s) who was on with a walk and advanced to third on Riggins’ RBI hit. The Mallards now led 3-1. In the second, La Crosse cut the Mallards lead to one on a Cory Burleson (Nebraska) groundout to second baseman Alex Jones (Northern Illinois) that scored Thomas Collins who advanced due to an error by third baseman Esch. The Mallards added a score in the fourth inning on a one-out solo home run by the man-of-the-night in Esch. The Mallards now led 4-2. La Crosse, who now travels to Green Bay, scored two runs in the fifth inning to tie the game at four on a two-RBI double by All-Star Nick Baligod (Oral Roberts) to score Brantly and Preckajlo, who were both on with back-to-back singles. In the Mallards sixth inning, shortstop Brashad Johnson (Des Moines Area CC) untied the score with a solo home run to left field, his first of the year, to give Madison a 5-4 advantage. As they’ve done all season, the Loggers came right back in the next frame to tie the game on a Baligod sacrifice fly to score Knight who was on with a single and advanced to third on another error by Esch. In the eighth inning, Esch redeemed himself with a two-run line drive home run to left field again, his second of the game, to score Adam McClain (Memphis) who was pinch running for Riggins’ after the NC State star walked with two outs. The Mallards regained the lead to take a 7-5 advantage into the ninth inning. That’s when things went awry for Madison as Mallards right-handed reliever Jordan Hershiser (USC) allowed back-to-back hits by Knight and Engell to leadoff the inning. Brantly then hit a ball to Jones at second base, who made a nice play to get Engell out at second and keep runners at the corners. Hot-hitting Preckajlo then hit a single to center field to score Knight and move La Crosse within a run of Madison. The next hitter in Baligod then hit a line drive single to right fielder Chris Barker (MATC) who misplayed the ball to score Blair Moore who was pinch running for Brantly. On that same play, Jones received the cutoff throw from Barker but overthrew catcher Tyson Blaser (Iowa) to allow Preckajlo to score and give La Crosse a one-run lead heading into the Mallards ninth. In that last frame, La Crosse closer C Crumbly was able to shutdown the Mallards offense in order to pick up his eighth save of the season. Loggers reliever Troy Watson (Sacramento CC) picked up his fourth win of the season (4-1) after allowing two earned runs in two innings of work. He pitched the seventh and eighth innings for La Crosse. Meanwhile Madison’s Hershiser received his third loss of the season (1-3) after allowing three runs (2 earned) in 2.2 innings, with all three runs coming in the ninth frame.
St. Cloud 3 – Duluth 2 (10 Inn.)
The St. Cloud River Bats (15-8) scored twice in the ninth to tie, before grabbing the win in the tenth, 3-2 over Duluth in front of 1,906 fans at Joe Faber Field. With Rochester’s (17-8) loss at Alexandria, the Bats are now a game removed from first place in the competitive north division. Matt Summers (UC Irvine) was hit by a pitch to begin the decisive tenth inning against Josh Formeman (Minnesota-Duluth). After a Blake Cover (Nebraska-Kearney) sacrifice, Matt Fanelli (Washington State) was intentionally walked. With Dan Betteridge (Rutgers) at the plate, Summer broke for third base, inducing a wild throw from Paul Kolodge, which brought in the winning run. Hunter Carnevale (Pacific) earned the win, throwing five innings of solid relief. The right-hander (1-0) struck out three and gave up just one run in his Bats debut. The Bats tied the game in the ninth inning against right-hander Alex Kent. Adam Weisenburger (Miami of Ohio) sacrificed after back-to-back singles from Fanelli and Betteridge. Brian Humphries plated a run on an RBI ground out and Jonathan Roof followed with an RBI single to send the game to extra innings. Humphries finished 2-for-5 with a double. Tony Renda (California) collected two hits for the River Bats. Damon McCormick (Valparaiso) got a no decision, tossing the first five innings, allowing one earned run on five hits, while striking out two and walking one.
Eau Claire 6 – Green Bay 5 (10 Inn.)
There was no shortage of excitement or drama in Thursday night’s Eau Claire Express game against the Green Bay Bullfrogs. The Express defeated the Bullfrogs in a protested game 6-5 in ten innings. About an hour before the game, rain came down to dampen the field. But the skies cleared around game time and it looked like the game would be played with no problems. The teams were in the fourth inning when that changed. The Bullfrogs were out to an early lead when dark clouds started to hover in the sky. The rains came and delayed the game 43 minutes. The teams resumed play and the Bullfrogs held the early advantage. After four innings, the Bullfrogs led 3-0. Scott Fern (Minnesota) was on the mound for the Bullfrogs. Although it was an away game for him, he was actually on his hometown mound. Fern has pitched numerous games at Carson Park over his career. But now he was in a Bullfrogs uniform shutting down the Express. In the sixth inning though, the Express started to get to Fern. They scored two runs to get within 3-2. But Green Bay answered with two runs of their own in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, the Express struck for three runs to tie the game 5-5. In the eighth inning, with the game tied, drama followed. The Bullfrogs brought on a pitcher that was not listed on the line up card. The pitcher faced one batter and then manager Dale Varsho brought that to the umpire’s attention. The Express played the rest of the game under protest at that point. Green Bay had to bring in a new pitcher and he kept the Bullfrogs in it. Brooks Pinckard (Baylor) relieved Miguel Ramirez (Tarleton State) in the ninth inning with the Express tied. Pinckard pitched a scoreless ninth but the Express were not able to push a run across in the bottom half. That sent the game to extra innings. Pinckard allowed a runner to third with one out, but he was able to work out of the jam. In the bottom, Nolan Fadness (UW-Oshkosh) reached base on a bunt single. Unfortunately, Kole Calhoun (Arizona St.) grounded into a double-play to seemingly end the threat. That set the stage however for Robbie Knight (Creighton). Knight laid down a bunt that the pitcher, Sam VandenHeuvel fielded. VandenHeuvel threw the ball past the first baseman which allowed Knight to make it to second. Knight then tried for third as the first baseman struggled to get the ball. The first baseman then threw the ball high and wide of the third baseman and that allowed Knight to score the winning run. Tyler Bremer (UC Davis) made his first start at Carson Park since his no-hitter. Bremer’s night was cut short due to the rain delay. He went five innings and allowed three runs on five hits. Knight had three hits and Calhoun and Fadness totaled two hits while the Express finished with ten on the night.
Battle Creek 6 – Brainerd 0
The Battle Creek Bombers drew four walks, got one hit, and scored three runs against starter Brad Mergen (Indian Hills CC) in less than an inning to pick up the 6-0 victory over the Lunkers in front of 598 fans at Mills Field. The game was delayed for 45 minutes due to rain, but when it started, the Bombers caught the early break. Mergen lasted just two-thirds of an inning and was tagged with his third loss of the year. The Lunkers recorded two singles in the first inning alone, but couldn’t plate any to cut the deficit. Over the next two innings, they had two men reach but the offense continued to sputter. Then in the fourth, the Lunkers had bases loaded with one-out. However, an inning ending double play kept the scoring drought intact. In the seventh, the Bombers added three more to finish the Lunkers for good. The big knock was a 2-RBI triple off the bat of the league’s best hitter, Chris Lewis (Western Michigan), to the right-center alley. The Lunkers put two men on with nobody out in the ninth, but a pop out, strikeout, and groundout ended the game for good.
Alexandria 19 – Rochester 10
One night removed from being on the wrong end of a blowout, the Beetles responded, scoring a season high 18 runs on 19 hits in an impressive 18-10 thumping of the Rochester Honkers. Mike O’Neill (USC) paced the Beetle offense, finishing the night 3-5 with four runs and four RBI. Erik Johnson (Cal) picked up the win despite struggling through five innings. Drew Gagnon (Long Beach State) was roughed up in three innings of work. Gagnon, who has now dropped two games against the Beetles, gave up seven runs (five earned) with four walks and his first five wild pitches of the season. Scoring started early and often, with the Honkers actually jumping out to a 2-0 lead after half an inning. But, the Beetles were able to answer with two of their own in the home half. Then, three in the second inning. And, for good measure, Alexandria’s Keith Castillo (USC) launched a two-run homer in the third, and the Beetles then opened up a 7-2 lead. But they were just getting started. Danny Brock (St. Louis), who had an excellent night at the plate, moved from DH to the mound in the fourth. But on this night, it didn’t matter who was throwing. The Beetles were flat out hitting. The frame started with a pair of singles. After a ground out, a string of five straight singles brought in four runs, O’Neill drove in the dagger with a bases clearing, three RBI triple. A walk and Tim Roberson (FGCU) double plated the eighth run of the inning, all earned and charged to Brock. In the fifth, Rochester answered with a Brock RBI double, but the Beetles countered with three in the home half. The Honkers would add three homeruns late against reliever Tyler Mills (Michigan), but despite a ten run, 16 hit performance, Rochester still fell nine runs short. It was a must-win game for the Beetles, who now find themselves three games behind the division leading Honkers with 11 games left in the season.
Wisconsin 5 – Waterloo 3
Jeremy Richter (UW-Stevens Point) went 3-for-4 and knocked in four runs as the Wisconsin Woodchucks picked up their fifth straight victory with a 5-3 win over the Waterloo Bucks Thursday night at Athletic Park. The Woodchucks made a statement early again tonight, scoring two runs when Richter hit a two-out, two-run double to give the Woodchucks a 2-0 lead after the first inning. Pitching took over for the next three innings, as the game stayed 2-0 heading into the fifth. The Bucks finally broke through in the fifth as Christian Griffiths drew a leadoff walk and scored on a single by Michael Giller to cut the lead in half. After a double by Pat Stover and a controversial play involving a catch and tag situation, the Bucks scored the tying run on a wild pitch to even the score at 2-2. In the bottom of the seventh, Travis Whitmore (Pittsburgh) drew a one-out walk, and Brett Krill (UCLA) followed with a single. Following a strikeout, it was Richter who came through in the clutch again, this time serving a single into left field which scored both runs and gave the ‘Chucks a 4-2 lead. Each team traded runs in the eighth, and Anthony Drobnick picked up his third save of the season after throwing a perfect ninth inning to give the Woodchucks their ninth win in ten games. Richter finished the game 3-for-4 with four RBIs, all of which coming with two outs. Krill and Whitmore each scored two runs in the victory. Giller had a team-high two hits and an RBI for the Bucks in defeat. Kyle Gumieny recorded the victory after throwing seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits. Chris Pack suffered the loss after allowing four runs on ten hits.