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Willmar, Lakeshore first half division champions

The first half of the 2014 Northwoods League season came to a close with a packed 13-game slate that saw Green Bay coach Darell Handelsman pick up his 600th career win as the Bullfrogs picked up a double-header sweep, as did Madison. Willmar took the first half title in the North as they finished 22-8 and a half of a game ahead of Waterloo, while Lakeshore went 24-10 and finished 3.5 games ahead of La Crosse to take the South. 

Eau Claire 12, Wisconsin Rapids 4

A monster eight-run seventh turned a one-run deficit into a big lead for Eau Claire, who went on to win 12-4 against Wisconsin Rapids. THe Express scored 12 runs on ten hits as their offense was boosted by three-RBI performances from Brady Burynski (UW-Stout) and Brent Gibbs (Indiana). Burynski picked up three hits while Gibbs hit a home run for Eau Claire.

Kalamazoo 10, Battle Creek 3 (Game 1)

Jared Kujawa's three-run home run was one of seven extra-base hits for Kalamazoo as a six-run sixth carried the Growlers to a convincing 10-3 win over the Bombers. Kujawa (Western Michigan), the Player of the Night, drove in five runs as he added a pair of doubles on a three-hit night. They were led by an effective seven inning start from Ryan Smoyer (Notre Dame) in the first game of two in a double-header between these two teams.

Battle Creek 5, Kalamazoo 4 (Game 2, 11 innings)

Both teams stranded double-digits in runners before a late rally from Battle Creek pushed it to extras. The Bombers, who trailed 4-2 heading into the ninth, rallied to tie it and then won it in the bottom of the 11th to walkoff and pick up a double-header split with Kalamazoo. Both teams picked up 13 hits as the Bombers won, 5-4, behind a 3-5 day from Colby Bortles in his NWL debut. Bortles hit a home run and drove in three runs.

Madison 2, La Crosse 1 (Game 1)

Pitcher of the Night Sterling Sharp (Eastern Michigan) pitched into the sixth and gave up just run on one hit to snap two straight losses as Madison downed La Crosse, 2-1. Pete Alonso (Florida) plated the decisive run in the fifth with a RBI single as the Mallards combined to hold the Loggers to just three hits. Tim Black (Central Michigan) picked up a five-out save for his ninth on the season, which ranks second in the league.

Madison 4, La Crosse 3 (Game 2)

The Mallards swept the Loggers as they picked up a 4-3 win in the nightcap. Three different players picked up RBIs as Madison finshed the first half on a two-game winning streak. Starter AJ Bogucki (North Carolina) gave up three runs over five solid innings to pick up the win, while teammate Andrew Buckley (California) picked up the save.

Lakeshore 5, Kenosha 4

Blake Butler's home run on the first pitch he saw gave Lakeshore a walkoff win over Kenosha, 5-4, in 12 innings and ended the first half on a four game winning streak. Butler (Charleston Col) built off his seven RBI night and player of the night honors on Sunday with a pair of home runs on a night of threes in RBIs, runs and hits. Luke Meeteer (UW-Milwaukee) logged a three-hit night and Butler fueled the Chinooks to erase an early 4-2 deficit.

Waterloo 6,  Rochester 5

Waterloo overcame a five-run sixth by Rochester as they chipped away at the lead against the Honkers bullpen, eventually pulling ahead on a RBI double from Jon McAllister in the eighth to win, 6-5. McAllister (Long Island) picked up three hits on the day, including two doubles as the top three of the Bucks lineup combined for eight of Waterloo's 11 hits. Nick Veale (Des Moines Area CC) threw five strong while Adam Dian (Pitt) picked up his Northwoods league-leading 10th save.

Green Bay 15, Wisconsin 6 (Game 1)

A three-run lead wasn't safe against the Bullfrogs as they blew it open with two huge innings- including an eight run eighth- to rout Wisconsin, 15-6. Green Bay doubled up the Woodchucks in hits with 22 and Ryan Koziol (Gulf Coast St Col) drove in three runs in a balanced Bullfrogs lineup that saw four other players pick up two RBIs. Despite leaving 12 runners on base, the Bullfrogs scored just one run less then their season high. They did pick up the most hits in a game this summer, surpassing the previous mark of 21 held by Madison and the Woodchucks, ironically.

Green Bay 12, Wiconsin 5 (Game 2)

Bullfrog field manager Darrell "Skip" Handlesman picked up his 600th career win behind 12 runs in the nightcap of the double-header as Green Bay won, 12-5, sweeping Wisconsin. The Woodchucks squandered opportunity after opportunity as they left 14 runners on and couldn't bounce back after the Bullfrogs jumped out to a 2-0 lead. A five-run fifth was more then enough offense for Green Bay, who were led by center fielder Johnny Bekakis (Long Beach St), who tripled and scored two runs.

Mankato 8, St. Cloud 3 (Game 1)

Catcher Dalton DeLeon (UT-Arlington) hit a three-run home run as part of a four-RBI day to boost Mankato to an 8-3 win over St. Cloud in the first game of a double-header. Austin Warner (Bellarmine) went five innings and allowed just one run on two hits to pick up the win while teammate Trey Cobb (Oklahoma St) picked up the save. Three runs in the sixth erased an early 1-0 deficit to give Mankato their fourth straight win, a streak that was snapped in the nightcap.

St. Cloud 3, Mankato 2 (Game 2)

After falling behind 2-1 entering the fifth, St. Cloud rallied for two quick runs and used a quality start from Austin Caspersen (Doane) to down Mankato in the nightcap of a double-header, 2-1. Caspersen went six innings and gave up just two runs on five hits to get the win, his third start of the season that was 6+ innings with two runs or less. Kade Scivicque (LSU) picked up two RBIs as he boosted the Rox to a double-header split. 

Willmar 6, Alexandria 5 (10 innings)

Both teams remained locked in a pitchers duel after early runs were scored until Willmar put up two runs in the top of the tenth and fought off an Alexandria rally to down the Blue Anchors, 6-5 in 10 innings. Frankie Rios (Southern California) hit a go-ahead home run and an error tacked on another run- an insurance run that would come in handy when a bases loaded Alexandria hit by pitch cut the lead to just one. However, Garrett Anderson (FGCU) got a crucial third out to escape a bases loaded jam.

Thunder Bay 5, Duluth 4 (10 innings)

Both teams starters went seven innings and Duluth had to rally late to force extras before ultimately falling, 5-4 to Thunder Bay. The Border Cats walked off to improve to 6-4 over the last ten games going into the halway mark of the season. The Huskies stranded ten runners on base as they struggled against Thunder Bay starter Charles Thielmann (Kean), who gave up nine hits but just one unearned run over seven innings. Thielmann took the no-descsion as Duluth rallied before losing on a walkoff. 

Tuesday's Schedule:

No Northwoods Leagues games. However, watch the US mens soccer team take on Belgium in the World Cup Round of 16. The game will be played at Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador. It is on ESPN.