Thunder Bay 5 – Brainerd 4
A pivotal RBI double hit in the bottom of the eighth lifted the Thunder Bay Border Cats over the Brainerd Lakes Area Lunkers, 5-4 in the regular season finale. Curtis Wagner (Santa Clara) and Sean Claugherty (St. Scholastica) hit back to back doubles in the bottom of the eighth inning as Thunder Bay came back to beat Brainerd 5-4. The Lunkers scored one in the second and three in the fourth to take an initial lead, but allowed four runs in the bottom of the fourth to give up the advantage. Mike Gedman (UMass) led the offense with his 2-for-2 night that included a pair of singles, two runs scored, and an RBI. Korie Walkley (Cal State-Bakersfield) threw four innings in the start, while Stephen Wickens (Florida Gulf Coast), Will Piwnica-Worms (Duke), and David Valesente (St. Joseph’s) worked an inning each in relief. Luis Castillo (Bellevue) pitched seven innings for Thunder Bay but ended up with a no decision. The right-hander from Burlington, Ontario allowed seven hits and four runs, while walking one and striking out eight. Josh Retka (St. Scholastica) struck out the side in the top of the eighth to pick up his first win of the season. Charley Henderson (Regis) took the loss in relief for Brainerd to fall to 1-1. With the win, the Border Cats finished the second half at 18-16 and jumped over the Lunkers (18-17), into fourth place in the North Division standings.
Duluth 6 – Rochester 2
The Honkers finished the regular season in Duluth Monday, needing a victory or a loss by La Crosse to secure universal home field advantage throughout the playoffs. Duluth denied the Honkers a victory as they took the game 6-2, but La Crosse fell at home to Mankato 6-2 to grant Rochester universal home field advantage in the playoffs. The Honkers got on the board in the top of the first inning, scoring a run on Duluth starter Sean Yost (Nebraska) after John Tommasini (Oregon State) walked to lead off the inning. The Huskies tied the game in the bottom of the frame as Jared Womack (Oklahoma State) drove in a run with a two out for an RBI double. Both starters settled in, and neither team scored again until the sixth inning. The Honkers took a 2-1 lead when Danny Brock (St. Louis) avoided a tag at home plate and scored on a two-out double by Drew Beuerlein (UNLV), but Duluth’s offense unloaded in the bottom half of the inning. A walk and two singles loaded the bases to start and the next batter, Andy Burns (Kentucky), doubled in two runs to put the Huskies up 3-2. Rochester called on William Arnold (Central Michigan) to pitch and got a SAC fly out on one pitch. One more run scored on a fielder’s choice and a bases loaded walk put Duluth on top 6-2 before Arnold could escape the inning. Yost went six inning allowing two runs on five hits with seven strikeouts to get the win and improve to 2-6. The loss was charged to Taliaferro, who allowed five runs on seven hits in five plus innings and fell to 2-1. The Honkers will kick off the postseason tomorrow when they host the Mankato MoonDogs in game one of the North Divisional Series at Mayo Field at 7:05pm. Drew Gagnon (Long Beach State) will start for the Honkers, while Ryan Demmin (Minnesota State Mankato) will pitch for the MoonDogs.
Waterloo 7 – Eau Claire 6
It looked all night like the Eau Claire Express would sweep the Waterloo Bucks and ride a win into the playoffs; that all changed in the blink of an eye. The Bucks homered in the top of the ninth inning to take a 7-6 lead which they held onto to defeat the Express Monday night at Carson Park. The Express dominated Waterloo all night, outhitting them 14-8, but weren’t able to put the Bucks away. Kenny Lidke (Augustana) started on the mound for the Express going seven innings and only allowing one run, unearned. With the Express up 5-1, Waterloo scored three runs off of Matthew Klein (NEJC) to get within one at 5-4. Miguel Ramirez worked out of a jam with runners on first and second to hold Eau Claire’s lead. The Express added an insurance run in the eighth. Ramirez retired the first two batters he faced in the ninth, but gave up a two-out single and a walk to set the stage for Waterloo catcher, Josh Lyon. Lyon hit a bomb to right field just underneath the lights that cleared the fan deck – the Bucks led the game 7-6. Eau Claire will need the 14-hit momentum to carry over into Tuesday night at Copeland Park in La Crosse. The Express and Loggers will play Game 1 of a three game series starting at 7:05 p.m.
Madison 9 – Green Bay 7
Madison out dueled Green Bay, 9-7, in a home run showcase as both squads concluded their Northwoods League seasons in front of a season-high attendance of 7,494 at Warner Park. In a game that featured five long balls – all to left field – and 13 hits for each team, it was Madison (19-14, 38-29) that found a way to assemble a pair of big innings for the win. Green Bay (16-18, 30-37) jumped out to a four-run lead behind deep balls from Aaron Conway (Missouri State) and Nick O’Shea (Minnesota). The Mallards responded with sevens runs, including a Harold Riggins (North Carolina State) homer, to take a three-run lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The highlight show didn’t end in the early innings as Riley Henricks (Portland) and John Hicks (Virginia) each blasted two-run home runs to the left-field bleachers during the top of the eighth inning. Henricks went 2-for-4 at the plate to go along with his three RBIs and two runs scored. Kyle Robinson (Indian River State College), Jared Andreoli (Western Kentucky) and Conway all added a pair of hits for the Bullfrogs. Troy Channing (Saint Mary’s) recorded two base hits, two runs scored, and three RBIs to lead the Madison lineup. John Hicks (Virginia) and Riggins each tallied two hits at the plate, while Jacob Esch (Georgia Tech) led the way with three base knocks to go with two RBIs. Ross Hellenbrand (Winona State) earned the victory on the mound after tossing two innings in relief. He struck out one, walked a batter, and gave up a hit. J.R. Graham (Santa Clara) picked up the save. Zach Varce (Portland) struck out a batter in relief to finish the season with 105 strikeouts – the second most ever in a NWL season. Matthew Kimball (Brown) was tagged with the loss after giving up four runs in one inning of work. The loss snapped Green Bay’s season-long winning streak of seven games.
Mankato 6 – La Crosse 2
Monday night the La Crosse Loggers and Mankato Moondogs wrapped up their regular seasons at Copeland Park in front of 4,335 fans. Mankato came out on top by the score of 6-2 before traveling to Rochester to take on the Honkers in the first round of the playoffs. La Crosse will stay at home and take on the visiting Eau Claire Express in a best of three series with the first pitch scheduled for 7:05 Tuesday night. Mankato took a 2-1 lead into the top of the fourth inning as Evan Kohli (Illinois State) extended a lead with his two RBI double making the score 4-1, Moondogs. La Crosse would get one run back when Justin Preckajlo (North Florida) hit an RBI single scoring Boomer Collins (Nebraska) who singled earlier in the inning. Mankato would eventually put the game away as they scored a run in each of the eighth and ninth innings to ensure a 6-2 victory. Mankato picked up ten hits on the night with four of their nine batters each picking up two hits. Leading the way though was Evan Kohli who went 2-4 with a double and three RBI’s. Brett Fratzke (Minnesota St.) pitched in his first game of the year for Mankato and picked up the win after working five innings giving up only one hit while striking out six. Loggers catcher Rob Brantly finally got a night off from playing but was awarded team MVP before the game after being announced to the post-season all-star team earlier in the day. Tony Mueller (Winona St.) is expected to take the mound in game one for La Crosse before they travel to Eau Claire for game two on Wednesday.
St. Cloud 4 – Alexandria 3 (Game 1)
Jonathan Roof capped an outstanding game with a game-winning RBI double in the bottom of the 11th inning as the St. Cloud River Bats defeated the Alexandria Beetles, 4-3, in front of 1,073 fans at Joe Faber Field on Monday afternoon. Roof (Michigan State) finished 4-for-6 and Matt Fanelli (Washington State) went 4-for-5 with a triple, run scored, and one RBI, as the Bats turned in a 13-hit attack. Eric Marzec (Youngstown State) earned his first win of the season, pitching 3 2/3 hitless innings in relief of Damon McCormick (Valparaiso), who tossed 7 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and three runs (two earned). St. Cloud opened the scoring with a first-inning RBI single by Zac Richard. Alexandria answered with a two-run home run by Keith Castillo in the top of the second. Trailing 3-1 with two outs in the seventh, the Bats scored a run on a wild pitch, and then added another on Fanelli’s RBI single.
St. Cloud 5 – Alexandria 4 (Game 2)
The St. Cloud River Bats (19-15) defeated the Alexandria Beetles 5-4 and swept a double-header with the Alexandria Beetles on Fan Appreciation Night at Joe Faber Field. Zac Richard (Xavier) singled in two runs in the eighth inning to cap off a three-run inning and give the Bats lead before Xavier Esquivel (Loyola Marymount) converted his fifth save of the season with a perfect ninth inning. Right-hander Connor Lambert (Washington State) earned the win, tossing three scoreless innings out of the pen. Matt Summers (UC Irvine) went the first four innings and allowed four earned runs while striking out seven and walking six.
Wisconsin 7 – Battle Creek 5
The Wisconsin Woodchucks put together a late rally and picked up a 7-5 comeback victory over the Battle Creek Bombers in the final game of the regular season. The Woodchucks scored the game’s first run in the bottom of the third inning when Khayyan Norfork (Tennessee) blasted a solo shot to left to give the Woodchucks a 1-0 lead. The Bombers responded with a run in the fifth to tie things up, and two more in top of the sixth to take a 3-1 lead after six and a half innings of play. In the bottom of the sixth, Wisconsin got a run back when Casey Rihn (South Carolina) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded which scored Travis Whitmore (Pittsburgh). But the Woodchucks left the bases loaded and trailed 3-2. In the seventh, Chris Lewis hit a two-run home run over the right field wall to extend the Bombers lead to 5-2. Trailing by three heading into the bottom of the seventh, Chad Wright (Kentucky) sent the Woodchucks fans to their feet when he lifted a two-run home run over the right field wall to cut the lead to one at 5-4. In the bottom of the eighth, Wisconsin rallied in front of 2,266 fans as Jeremy Richter (UW-Stevens Point) led off with a walk, and Rihn followed with a single. After Carson Vitale (Creighton) drew a four pitch walk, Eric Fritz (UW-Stevens Point) hit a sacrifice fly to score Richter. The following play, Norfork hit a grounder that was dropped by second baseman Larry Perry which kept the rally going. The ‘Chucks scored three runs in the inning, and took a 7-5 lead. Kyle Gumieny (Southeast Missouri State), who picked up the win, struck out the final batter to seal up the 7-5 victory. Cody Koback (UW-Stevens Point) went five innings, allowing three runs on five hits as the starter. Gumieny, who earned his sixth win of the season, threw a perfect eighth and ninth for the ‘Chucks.