Madison 12 – Eau Claire 9
The Madison Mallards extended its winning streak against Eau Claire to four games this season thanks to a come-from-behind, 12-9, victory on Friday night at the “Duck Pond”. The Mallards (36-28 overall, 17-13 second half) battled back from a 6-0 deficit in the early innings and a late 8-5 margin to take game one of the series and remain just a half-game behind La Crosse, who defeated Waterloo by a score of 8-3 on Friday as well. Eau Claire wasted no time getting their first run on the board, pushing one across on a Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) curve ball in the dirt that skipped away from Madison catcher Joe Patterson (Texas A&M). Nate Baumann then followed that with his second home run of the season, a two-run shot to dead center field which gave the Express a quick 3-0 lead. After a quiet second inning by both squads, the Express exploded for three more runs thanks to an RBI double by Baumann and a two-run homer by Jason Ganek (Illinois Chicago) to make it 6-0, visitors. After two times through the order, the three, four and five hitters in the Eau Claire lineup were a combined 6-for-6 with two home runs, five RBI, and five runs scored. John Hicks (Virginia) finally reached pay dirt for the Mallards with a two-out solo shot into the party deck in left field. It was Hicks’ third home run of the year. Hicks finished 3-for-5 with four RBI and three runs scored on the night. After a lead off single by Aaron Fujiki in the fourth, J.R. Graham (Santa Clara) came in relief of Esch who allowed six runs on eight hits over three innings of work. Madison drew closer in the fifth with six consecutive singles to begin the inning. They sent eight batters to the plate, leading to four runs and cutting the deficit to 6-5. Graham struck out Bobby Rinard to lead off the sixth, his third punch out in a row and fifth through the first seven batters he faced. He’d walk the next two guys, though, and that would set up a response from the Express as Nolan Fadness would connect on a two-out single to left to drive in both runs and stretch the lead to 8-5, but it was Graham’s effectiveness that kept the Mallards in the game during the middle innings. Graham looked to almost get into another jam in the seventh when he gave up a single and then walked a batter to start the inning. He retired the next batter on a sacrifice bunt, advancing both runners 90 feet to second and third, struck out Ganek and then got Rinard to ground out to first to end the inning. With two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh, Troy Channing (St. Mary’s) stepped to the plate representing the tying run and nearly missed evening up the score as his fly ball to left was caught on the warning track. The hottest-hitting Mallard over the past 10 games, McClain, then had a chance, but the second baseman grounded out to his counterpart to end the inning. The Mallards put together the rally they were looking for in the eighth. With two runs already in to make the game 8-7 and only one out, Ganek came into pitch for Eau Claire and he faced Channing with the bases loaded. With a full count, he plunked the Mallard designated hitter to force in the tying run. A four-pitch walk to the next batter, Barker, gave Madison the lead, 9-8. They weren’t done. McClain added a sacrifice fly and Jared Anderson drove in a pair with a single through the right side to make it 12-8, Mallards after eight. Brad Allen (Elgin CC) threw a scoreless eighth to pick up his third win of the year while Patrick Lala (Kirkwood CC) worked an effective ninth to close out the game.
Green Bay 6 – Battle Creek 2
Aaron Conway strengthened his case on Friday night for a Northwoods League post-season award by inching his way ever closer to the single-season steal record. While he was doing it all on offense, Green Bay dropped Battle Creek 6-2 at Jones Sign Field inside Joannes Stadium. The victory gave Green Bay (15-17, 29-36) its third-consecutive win over Battle Creek (15-17, 36-29) during the current four-game series. It also gave the Bullfrogs a six-game winning streak, their longest of the season. Conway (Missouri State) stole his first two bases of the night in the third inning, all while Collin Kuhn (Arkansas) was at the plate. He later nabbed his third bag of the evening in the eighth frame. Conway pushed his league leading steal total to 43 on the season, two shy of tying the NWL single-season mark set by Green Bay’s Daniel Robertson in 2007. As Conway was running laps around the bases the Bullfrogs racked up a four-run fifth inning to break a two all tie. A series of singles, a fielding error, and a sacrifice bunt gave them the win. On the mound, NWL all-star and local product Joel Delorit (UW-Stevens Point) tossed five innings to pick up his fourth win of the season. He struck out six, while scattering five and allowing two runs. The Bullfrogs bullpen threw four innings and allowed one hit, while striking out six and walking one to preserve the victory. Tony Jandron (St. Norbert) tallied a pair of hits, while Kuhn also had two hits to go along with two steals. Conway also added two hits and two runs scored. Mike Murphy (Arizona State) was the only Battle Creek batter to record double-digit hits, two. Chris Lewis (Western Michigan) and Jimmy Tanner (USC-Upstate) each added a stolen base. Battle Creek marked the scoreboard in the top of the opening frame for a 1-0 lead. Lewis advanced to first on a throwing error after bunting, which also scored Matt Miraldi (Cal State-LA). The Bullfrogs rallied for a pair of runs in the third frame to take a 2-1 advantage. Joel Hutter (Des Moines Area CC) and Conway completed a steal of second and home on the same play for the first run of the frame. Kuhn followed with a RBI triple. It was the fifth-consecutive game that Green Bay stole second and home on the same play. Jimmy Tanner (USC-Upstate) drove in Josh Valle (Marshall) to tie the game at two runs apiece in the top of the fourth inning. Green Bay exploded for four scores in the bottom of the fifth after almost batting around the order. A pair of consecutive singles and a sacrifice bunt single loaded the bases. Riley Henricks (Portland) followed with a popup that scored two runs after it was misplayed by the Bombers right fielder. Jacob House (Arkansas) drove in the third run of the frame with a single through the right side. Nick O’Shea (Minnesota) pushed the final and fourth run of the inning on a sacrifice bunt. The four runs gave the Bullfrogs a 6-2 lead. Joe Wagstaff (Louisburg College) went six innings on the bump, but was credited with the loss. He did strike out seven, but allowed eight hits and six runs – four earned.
La Crosse 8 – Waterloo 3
The La Crosse Loggers were able to maintain their half game lead over Madison Friday night as they defeated the visiting Waterloo Bucks by the score of 8-3 in front of 2,828 fans at Copeland Park. La Crosse got out to an early 3-0 lead as they picked up three runs on as many hits in the first inning. Waterloo would eventually tie the game at three as Willie Argo (Illinois) hit an RBI single in the top of the fourth scoring third baseman Troy White (No. Illinois). The game wouldn’t remain tied for long though as the next inning the Lumbermen picked up four runs after two crucial errors by Waterloo’s left fielder Pat Stover (Santa Clara). Recently acquired Logger pitcher Ben Versnik (UW-Whitewater) pitched the final two innings allowing no hits while picking up one strikeout to shut the door on Waterloo. Rob Brantly (UC-Riverside) stayed hot at the plate going 3-5 with an RBI while scoring two runs to continue his impressive offensive play this season. Driving in two runs of his own was left fielder Nick Baligod (Oral Roberts) who went 1-2 on the night. Jordan McClintick (Loyola Marymount) came in for La Crosse in relief of starting pitcher Pete Woodworth (Florida Gulf Coast) to pick up the win and improve his record to a perfect 3-0.
St. Cloud 16 – Rochester 6
The St. Cloud River Bats came in to Rochester needing to win every game the rest of the season and have the Honkers lose every remaining game in order to make the playoffs, and they kept their window open for at least one more day as they buried the Honkers 16-6. Rochester starter Bret Mitchell (Minnesota State Mankato) had to pitch in tough conditions in the first inning, as the weather varied between drizzle and heavy rain, and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced. Rochester is now 22-11 in the second half while St. Cloud is 17-13. Brian Humphries (Pepperdine) was the first batter of the game for St. Cloud, and he smashed the third pitch of the game off of the score board for a solo home run to give St. Cloud a 1-0 lead. The next two batters doubled and Mitchell would hit a batter, walk two and throw two wild pitches in the inning as he was clearly struggling to control the ball in the wet conditions. When the inning ended the rain had gone, and the Honkers trailed 4-0. Rochester wouldn’t be able to stage any sort of rally against St. Cloud starter David Deminsky (St. Cloud State), as he held Rochester to just three hits over six shutout innings. Meanwhile Mitchell was able to keep St. Cloud off the scoreboard until the fifth, but he still struggled with his control. The River Bats busted the game open in the fifth, as they plated six runs to expand their lead to 10-0. They racked up five singles, a double, and added a hit batsman to the rally, as well as a wild pitch and two Honker errors to push across the runs. Dan Betteridge (Rutgers) brought the biggest blow with a two-run single, and Humphries, Matt Fanelli (Washington State) and Kurt Schlangen (Minnesota) added RBI hits as well. Mitchell was lifted for Brody Taliaferro (Hutchinson CC) during the inning. St. Cloud continued hitting against Taliaferro, and chased him in the seventh while scoring four more runs against him to expand their lead to 14-0. The Honkers were able to start a small rally late, scoring one run in the eighth and pushing across five in the bottom of the ninth against Tyler Fries (Winthrop), but never came close to bringing the tying run to the on deck circle. Mitchell took the loss to fall to 1-3, and allowed 10 runs (nine earned) in 4.2 innings. Deminsky got the win to move to 6-3. John Tommasini (Oregon State) had two runs and two RBI for the Honkers, while Corey Jones (Cal State Fullerton) and Danny Pulfer (Oregon) each had two hits. Danny Oh (California) had the best day at the plate for St. Cloud, going 4-for-5 with two runs and three RBI.
Alexandria 11 – Brainerd 1
The Alexandria Beetles pasted 14 hits and scored is six of their nine innings to defeat the Lunkers, 11-1 in front of 549 fans at Mills Field. The loss ends the winning streak at a franchise-high five games. While the Beetles didn’t lead from start to finish, they certainly led from the second until the end. In the second, back-to-back singles set up a run-scoring hit. That was followed by an RBI double, and an RBI groundout ended the rally at three runs. Mike Gedman (UMass) recorded his first of two hits on the night in the bottom of the second, but the offense wasn’t able to bring him home. Two innings later, an RBI single brought home the fourth run for Alexandria. Then in the fifth, an RBI double brought home the fifth run of the night. The scoring wasn’t done though. Two more runs came across in the sixth and another touched home in the seventh. In all, the Beetles scored five runs between the fourth and seventh innings. Pinch-hitter David Valesente (St. Joseph’s) knocked home the only run of the night for the Lunkers. His RBI single up the middle plated Dennis O’Grady (Duke), but the brunt of the damage had been done. For good measure, Alexandria tacked on three more in the ninth to keep the game out of reach. On the mound, starter Dennis O’Grady tossed five innings, allowed five runs on eight hits, walked two and struck out six. He was tagged for his first loss of the year. At the plate, both Mike Gedman and O’Grady finished with two hits on the night. In addition to David Valesente’s single in the eighth, Stephen Wickens (Florida Gulf Coast) was the only other Lunker that recorded a hit.
Wisconsin 1 – Mankato 0
For the second time in three days, the MoonDogs dropped a pitcher’s duel. Bennett Whitmore allowed just one earned run on seven hits in seven innings, but he was bested by Mark Larini. Larini threw six shutout innings, allowed four hits and struck out two to give Wisconsin a 1-0 win over Mankato at Franklin Rogers Park. The Woodchucks (28-36, 15-15) scored the only run of the ballgame in the second inning. Jeremy Richter (UW-Stevens Point) doubled to lead-off the frame and moved to third on a Casey Rihn (South Carolina) groundout. Carson Vitale (Creighton) brought Richter home with a sac fly to center to provide the only run of the game. The MoonDogs had a golden opportunity in the seventh to tie or take the lead. With runners on second and third and one out, the MoonDogs failed to plate a run, as Taylor Black (Kentucky) grounded out to a drawn-in infield and Nick Judkins (Iowa Central) struck out to end the threat. Whitmore (Oregon) fell to 3-2 on the summer for the MoonDogs (38-27, 15-17) despite the brilliant outing while Larini posted his first win of the summer (1-1). Anthony Drobnicki picked up the save throwing the last three innings and striking out three. Cody Fick (Evansville) was the only MoonDog with two his, going 2-4 on the evening. Richter had two hits on the night for the Woodchucks, while Chad Wright (Kentucky) also added a 2-4 night.
Thunder Bay 7 – Duluth 5
The Border Cats made it three in a row on their final road trip of the season, beating the Huskies 7-5 in Duluth Friday night. The Cats came back from a 4-1 first inning deficit, scoring three times in the 2nd inning, adding two more in the 6th and one in the 8th. The Cats have won five straight on the road and stand 16-15 in the 2nd half standings. Tyler Powell (Belmont Abbey) overcame a shaky start to pitch seven innings for the win as he improved his record to 4-3. Powell allowed 10 hits and five runs (four earned), with no walks and seven strikeouts. Drew Erwin (Nicholls State) pitched the final two innings, allowing one hit and striking out two for his 4th save. Matty Johnson (Bellevue) raised his average to .339, going 3-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI. A.J. Schugel (Central Arizona College) knocked in three runs as he went 1-4 with a sacrifice fly and Sean Claugherty (St. Scholastica) had a 2-5 night with a run scored.