Published On: August 11th, 2009

Rochester 3 – Mankato 2

Drew Gagnon (Long Beach State) pitched a gem and Danny Brock (St. Louis) backed him with a two-run homer as the Honkers downed Mankato and one of the league’s best pitchers—Ryan Demmin (UW-Oshkosh)—3-2 to take a one game lead in the Northwoods League North Divisional Series. Gagnon, Scott McGough (Oregon) and Arik Sikula (Marshall) combined to hold the MoonDogs to just two unearned runs on three hits over the course of the game. The Honkers can win the series and earn a trip to the NWL Championship series with a win tomorrow night in Mankato at 7:05pm. Also, La Crosse defeated Eau Claire 5-2 in game one of the South Divisional Series on Tuesday night. Rochester was able to hit Demmin, who came into the game after posting a 1.36 ERA in the regular season, but couldn’t push across any runs until the third inning. Corey Jones (Cal State Fullerton) led off the inning with a single, and Brock followed with a massive home run well over the wall to left center to give the Honkers a 2-0 lead. Demmin would start to settle down after that and didn’t allow another real threat until the seventh inning. Meanwhile Gagnon was brilliant, and no-hit Mankato into the fifth inning. He issued a two-out walk to Taylor Black (Kentucky), and Black stole second before taking third on a passed ball. Xorge Carillo (Arizona State) singled him home to break up the no-hitter and put Mankato on the board with an unearned run and make the score 2-1. But Gagnon would get the third out and turn in a solid sixth to finish his night with just one hit allowed and one unearned run in six innings while striking out seven. Rochester gave him an insurance run against Demmin in the seventh as Danny Pulfer (Oregon) led off the inning with a double and scored when Rance Roundy (UNLV) doubled one batter later to make the score 3-1. Rochester would need that extra run as Mankato cut the lead down to 3-2 in the eighth against McGough when Tony Strazzara (San Diego) scored on a sacrifice fly. The inning could have been much worse for the Honkers as Mankato had the bases loaded with no outs, but McGough was able to get a fielder’s choice out at home plate and a groundout after the sacrifice fly to escape the inning. The Honkers gave the ball to Sikula in the ninth, and he induced a double play after allowing a single before getting the final out on a fly ball that Scott Berke (UNLV) made a sliding catch on in left-center. Sikula, who earned 20 saves in the regular season, got his first of the playoffs, while Gagnon picked up a win to move to 1-0 in the postseason (he was 4-2 in the regular season). The loss went to Demmin who allowed three runs on ten hits in 6.2 innings. The ten hits were the most he has allowed this season as he fell to 0-1 in the playoffs after going 5-4 in the regular season. Jones was a perfect 3-for-3 for the Honkers while Brock went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBI from the home run.
La Crosse 5 – Eau Claire 2

The La Crosse Loggers earned their first playoff win in franchise history Tuesday night as they beat the Eau Claire Express by a score of 5-2 in Copeland Park.  La Crosse native Tony Mueller picked up the win in front of 2,672 fans in attendance. Eau Claire would get things going early as they took a 1-0 lead on and RBI single by Andrew Leonard (UIC).  They would strike again the following inning as Kole Calhoun (Arizona St.) hit and RBI double to take the 2-0 lead over the Loggers.  La Crosse would tie the ball game in the bottom of the inning as Austin Knight (Dallas Baptist) hit his first home run of the season.  Knight was down 1-2 in the count when he hit his home run that scored Boomer Collins (Nebraska) who singled just before him.  The lumbermen would add a run in both the fifth and sixth innings courtesy of two solo home runs.  The first by team MVP Rob Brantly (UC-Riverside) and the second by Aaron Gates (Pepperdine) who went 3-4 on the night with two RBI’s.  La Crosse picked up their final run of the night when Austin Knight scored on an Aaron Gates RBI single. Loggers starting pitcher Tony Mueller earned the win in La Crosse’s first ever playoff win as he went seven innings allowing two runs on six hits.  Aaron Gates was the leading Logger hitter as he went 3-4 with two RBI’s and was a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.  Rob Brantly showed again why he made the NWL post-season all-star team as he went 2-3 with a solo home run.  Andrew McKirahan (Texas) pitched the final two innings for La Crosse allowing only one hit while striking out three Express batters on his way to picking up the save.

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