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Close scores rule Wednesday games

Seven games were decided by two runs or less as Wednesday's games were close, low-scoring affairs- including a 15 inning marathon of a game. Comebacks ruled the day as did strong pitching performances across the leagues.

St. Cloud 7, Thunder Bay 4

The opening night matchup between these two teams was intriguing, so it seemed fitting that this one would be as well. The Rox picked up their second straight win over the BorderCats, 7-4, behind a three-run seventh inning that broke open a tie. With the bases loaded, the Rox earned a hit-by-pitch, a walk and a single to create a three-run lead. Reese Gregory (St. Cloud State) earned the win in relief with three scoreless innings while closer Kevin Burgee earned his second save in as many nights. 

Eau Claire 5, Lakeshore 2 (7 innings)

The first of two saw the Express put up four runs in the bottom of the third and fend off the Chinooks in both teams openers. Express outfielder Tyler Jones (Air Force) went 2-3 with a pair of RBIs, a walk and a run to back Eau Claire starter Ian Doughty (Pepperdine). Doughty went five innings, allowing one earned run on five hits while striking out five. Jordan Ruckman (Northern Illinois) came in and picked up the two-inning save. 

Eau Claire 3, Lakeshore 2 (7 innings)

The nightcap of the Express-Chinooks doubleheader saw Eau Claire rally from a 2-1 deficit to walking off in the bottom of the seventh. Tied at two apiece, Express catcher Brian Sicher worked a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh to send Mike Barajas home and to win the game. Reliever Austin Stroschein picked up the win for the Express after throwing two shutout innings. 

Madison 6, Kalamazoo 2 (7 innings)

Another first game of a doubleheader saw the defending champions Mallards jump out to a 5-0 lead through three innings and they didn't look back, fighting off a late Growlers rally for a season-opening win. Christian Taugner threw five innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit to earn the win. He was supported by a three-run third after errors plagued the Growlers. Caleb Barager (Jackson CC) made it just two innings for Kalamazoo, allowing five runs- just one of which was eraned however. 

Kalamazoo 6, Madison 5 (7 innings)

The Growlers bounced back from the first half of the doubleheader to earn their first franchise victory by a score of 6-5 over Madison. Kalamazoo jumped on the Mallards early with a six run second and barely fought off a tough Madison rally. The Mallards scored three in the third to cut the lead in half, then added two in the sixth to cut it to one. However, Ryan Smoyer (Notre Dame) slammed the door on Madison with two shutout innings to preserve the lead and earn a save. Donnie Eaton (Michigan) earned the win for his two shutout innings. 

Willmar 2, Duluth 1

Dylan Barrow (Tampa) was absolutely dominant for six shutout innings for the Huskies but Duluth's bullpen conceded a 1-0 lead in the seventh and WIllmar tacked on the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth to win. Barrow struck out ten of the nineteen batters he faced, allowing just one hit and walking one. He was equally matched by Willmar's Sheldon Lee (San Fransisco), who went six and a third with seven strikeouts. He let in a run to give the Huskies a lead but the Stingers came back against Duluth reliever Josh McLaneley. The teams remained tied until Willmar got a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the top of the ninth that was the difference. Sean Poppen (Harvard) took the loss, while Tyler Hanson (Minnesota) picked up the win. Greg Anderson (FGCU) picked up the save.

Mankato 4, Alexandria 2

Mankato grabbed their second straight victory against the Blue Anchors with a 4-2 win. The MoonDogs broke open a 1-1 tie with a three-run seventh and didn't look back. Alexandria was held to just four hits and struck out 11 times as Mankato starter Brock Dykxhoorn had a solid start. Dyxhoorn allowed one run (not earned) and struck out seven over six and a third innings. His replacement, Mark Curtis picked up the win with an inning of work. Austin Warner came in and shut down Alexandria in the ninth for his first save of the season. 

Green Bay 4, Battle Creek 2

The Bullfrogs bounced back from a 10-9 season opening loss to earn a split with the Bombers. Green Bay won 4-2 behind six strong innings from starter Garrett Harrison (St. Cloud State) who struck out six and didn't allow an earned run. The Bullfrogs scored three runs in the first two innings to go up 3-2 behind several RBI singles. Battle Creek came back to come within one, 3-2, but Green Bay added an insurance run late. Harrison earned the win and closer Sam Brunner (Dodge City CC) struck out three in the ninth for the save.

Rochester 7, Waterloo 5

Rochester earned a split with the Bucks as they bounced back from an opening night loss to a 7-5 win. Waterloo jumped out to a 3-1 lead but the Honkers chipped away before tying it in the fifth. The teams swapped two-run innings before Rochester scored a run in both the seventh and eighth to take the two-run lead. Both teams had relievers factor in the desicions- the Honkers Ryan Diers (St. Cloud State) took the win after a scoreless inning while TJ Peterson took the lost after allowing three runs in just an inning and two thirds. Carl Jameson (Missouri Baptist) struck out six over a three-inning save for the Honkers.

Kenosha 5, Wisconsin Rapids 2

The Kingfish carried over momentum from opening night's lopsided victory and downed the Rafters, 5-2. Kenosha starter Connor Kelly (Chandler-Gilbert CC) earned the win after allowing just two runs over five innings. He was supported by Zach Kolakowski (Illinois) who had a two-run double and Pat Porter (Ohio State) who knocked in two runs as well. Brett Shimanovsky (St. Louis) struck out two in the ninth to pick up his first save. Rafters starter Jake Johanmeier went seven innings and took the loss, allowing three earned runs and six hits while striking out four.

La Crosse 3, Wisconsin 2 (15 innings)

Four hours and 28 minutes after the first pitch, La Crosse third basemen Jerrod Bravo crossed home plate on a walk off wild pitch to give the Loggers a 3-2 win. Jake Light (Illinois Central CC) got the win after throwing a scoreless top of the 15th while Tim McElroy (Purdue) took the loss as he could only get one out in the bottom of the 15th. The teams combined for 24 strikeouts and 26 hits along with 11 walks. They also combined for 103 at bats but neither team got a single extra base hit. 

Thursday's Schedule

Rochester @ Eau Claire (6:35)

Alexandria @ Waterloo (6:35)

Mankato @ Lakeshore (6:35)

Duluth @ Thunder Bay (7:05)

St. Cloud @ Willmar (7:05)

Wisconsin @ Wisconsin Rapids (7:05)

Kenosha @ Green Bay (7:05)

Kalamazoo @ Battle Creek (7:05)