Four games decided by three or less runs on competitive Thursday

Very competitive games were plentiful on Thursday, including an exciting matchup that came down to the wire between Eau Claire and Willmar, while Paul DeJong accounted for eight runs in an 12-5 rout of Madison. Rochester put up two runs in the top of the ninth to sneak past Kalamazoo while Wisconsin and the Stingers saw their win streaks hit six.

Kenosha 4, Lakeshore 1

The Kingfish picked up their third straight victory as they scored three quick runs in the first and held the lead, beating South-division leading Lakeshore, 4-1. Pat Porter (Ohio State) continued his tear as he had his fourth straight two-RBI game for Kenosha, going 2-3 with a double and a run. Porter's 16 RBIs rank second in the league, just ahead of collegiate and Kenosha teammate Zach Ratcliff (Ohio State) who hit a RBI double in the first. Kingfish starter J.D. Nielsen (Illinois) went seven shutout innings with four strikeouts to pick up his first win while Steven Klimek (St. Bonaventure) closed it out for his seventh save on the season.

Willmar 5, Eau Claire 3

Two hot teams faced off at Carson Park and Willmar fought off a late Eau Claire rally to win their sixth straight, 5-3, and remain in posession of the Northwoods League top record. The Stingers improved to 13-4 and are now 9-1 over their last ten games as a three-run top of the ninth was just enough insurance. Willmar starter TJ Whidby (UT Arlington) went seven one-run innings with three strikeouts to get the win, but his excellent start and the Stinger lead was almost squandered in the bottom of the ninth. Josh Matheson (Minnesota St-Mankato) pitched a strong eighth but gave up two runs in the ninth and had to be rescued by Garrett Anderson (FGCU) who struck out the final batter to earn the save. David Parrett (Iowa Western) led the Stingers to the win as he went 3-3 with a pair of runs in his third multi-hit game for Willmar- out of the four games he's played in.

Rochester 4, Kalamazoo 2

These teams battled to a 2-2 tie through the first eight innings, but the Honkers picked up a pair of bases loaded walks in the ninth to end a five-game slide with a 4-2 win. Rochester, who'd fallen to .500, now sit at 9-8 and four games out of first place. Rocheser was bolstered by setup man Jeff Campbell (North Dakota) who went a scorless eighth for the win and closer Carl Jameson (Missouri Baptist) threw a scoreless ninth and worked out of a two-on jam to earn his second save. Four different Honkers picked up RBIs despite just getting four hits on the game. A lack of control by Growler pitchers- nine walks- was exploited in the eventual game-winning top of the ninth.

Wisconsin Rapids 12, Madison 5

Behind NWL Pitcher of the Night Zach Jackson (Arkansas), the Rafters picked up their second straight win with a seven-run rout of the Mallards. Wisconsin Rapids scored four runs apiece in the second and the eighth and piled up 14 hits on the game. Jackson picked up the win as he struck out an impressive 12 Mallards over six innings of work, throwing 62 strikes out of the 94 pitches he threw. Rafters hitters Erik Payne (Virginia Tech) and Kirby McGuire (New Mexico) had massive days at the plate. Payne slugged two home runs and picked up five RBIs on a 3-5 night while McGuire drove in three on a 2-4 day with two runs.

Wisconsin 11, Green Bay 5

The Bullfrogs held a one-run lead into the fifth but a five-run fifth and a four-run seventh was more then enough offense for the Woodchucks, downing Green Bay 11-5. NWL Player of the Night Paul DeJong went 4-4 with six RBIs, including a three-run home run, to support starter Connor McFadden (So. Illinois). McFadden picked up the win as he went six innings, allowing just two runs on four hits while striking out two. DeJong was joined by Brendon Hayden (Virginia Tech) who went 2-3 with a pair of doubles and three RBIs.

Battle Creek 7, La Crosse 5

The Bombers picked up their second straight win while knocking the Loggers into third place with a 7-5 victory. Battle Creek jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and La Crosse couldn't complete a comeback in the middle innings. Matt Dacey led the Bomber offense as he went 1-3 with a home run, three RBIs and a pair of walks along with two runs. Middle reliever Dan Martinson picked up his second win of the season with three one-run innings, allowing just three hits. Zach Ryan threw two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts to pick up his second save in as many chances.

Waterloo 12, Mankato 8

The Bucks snapped a two-game skid as they used a five-run fifth to down Mankato, 12-8, in an offensive showcase that featured 26 combined hits. Waterloo had three players pick up two RBIs, including leftfielder Connor McClain. McClain went 4-5 with two runs, a double and three RBIs. Buck starter Mario Leon picked up the win despite giving up six earned runs over five innings of work. Reliever Brent Jurecka picked up his first save as he went the next four innings, allowing just two earned runs. 

Friday Schedule (Games at 7:05 unless otherwise noted):

Alexandria @ Duluth (5:05)

St. Cloud @ Thunder Bay (5:35)

Alexandria @ Duluth (6:35)

Rochester @ Kalamazoo

Wisconsin @ Green Bay

Willmar @ Eau Claire

Battle Creek @ La Crosse

Waterloo @ Mankato

Wisconsin Rapids @ Madison

Kenosha @ Lakeshore

St. Cloud @ Thunder Bay (8:05)