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Chinooks Add to Pitching Staff

Mequon, WI – Finding the right mix of pitchers for college summer teams is not an exact science as teams attempt to find the highest quality and freshest arms to add to their rotation.  The process also offers the unique opportunity for players from a variety of college settings to be challenged by facing some of the best collegiate players in the country.  With that in mind, the Lakeshore Chinooks have added four young pitchers to their 2014 roster and given them the opportunity to compete for innings this season.  Mike Leftkewicz (Augustana College), Ben Messenger (University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh), GJ Strauss (Florida Tech), and Colin Wendinger (University of St. Thomas) will all get opportunities in the early weeks of the 2014 season.

Mike Leftkewicz is a 6’4”, 215 pound right-hander from Waterloo, I where he played at Columbus Catholic HS.  In his freshman year at NCAA Division II Augustana, Lefkewicz struck 15 hitters in 16 innings of work.  This season the sophomore has already struck out 45 in 26 innings and has posted a 4-1 record with a 3.32 era in nine appearances.  The hard throwing Leftkewicz also has Northwoods League experience after pitching for the Rochester Honkers in 2013.

Ben Messenger is off to a solid start for the Titans of Oshkosh, after transferring from UW-Stevens Point, with 21 strikeouts in 18 innings of work and a 1.50 era.  The 6’0”, 185 pound sophomore earned All-State honors and was named the Fox River Classic Conference Player of the Year as a senior at Bayport HS.  As a freshman at Stevens Point, Ben posted a 5-1 record with a 3.91 era and 38 strikeouts in 52 innings, including eight starts.

After sitting out this season for Division II Florida Tech, GJ Strauss will come to KAPCO Park fresh and looking to make an impact.  The hard-throwing RHP stands 6’5” and will be anxious to prove himself against NWL hitters after pitching last summer in the Alaskan League for the Peninsula Oilers where he was named to the league All-Star game and notched a 4-1 record, a 1.63 era, and 26 strikeouts.  Strauss spent his first two college seasons at Western Kentucky after graduating from Christian Brothers HS in St. Louis, MO.  Last season at Florida Tech, GJ struck out 21 batters in 22 innings of work.

Colin Wendinger posted a perfect 16-0 record and a 0.61 era in his high school career at New Ulm Cathedral HS in New Ulm, MN.  This season, as a junior at D-III  St. Thomas, the 6’2” Wendinger leads his team with 21 innings of work and has posted a 2-0 record with a 4.29 era and 19 strikeouts.  Last year as a sophomore, Wendinger was named the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Week twice and was named to the MIAC All-Conference team after helping lead the Tommies to the 2013 NCAA Division III tournament.

How these four pitchers fare in the early season against players from other levels of college baseball will be one of the compelling stories for the Chinooks!

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The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 115 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (DET) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (STL) and Ben Zobrist (TB). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League YouTube channel.  For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com.