Second half begins with full nine-game slate
All 18 teams played on Wednesday night in the Northwoods League with a full nine-game slate. Thunder Bay won their seventh of their last ten behind a five-run sixth, while both Battle Creek and Waterloo walked off in the 11th inning. The Bucks streak hit three and both first half champions- Willmar and Lakeshore fell in the first game of the second half.
Thunder Bay 5, Alexandria 4
The Border Cats won their second straight game, using a five-run sixth to overcome an early deficit as they scored all five runs with nobody out to down Alexandria, 5-4. Blue Anchor reliever Austin Smith (Georgia Gwinnett) couldn't record an out, allowing five runs on five hits to spoil a strong start from Blake Bass (Angelo St), who allowed just one hit over the first five innings. Alexandria almost came back, but they stranded two runners in the bottom of the ninth to end it. Thunder Bay carried over their first half success, winning their seventh out of their last ten to pull just six games away from .500 on the year.
Battle Creek 1, Lakeshore 0 (11 innings)
After picking up just three hits through the first ten innings, the Bombers led off the bottom of the 11th with a triple and a wild pitch gave Battle Creek a 1-0 win to start the second half against the first half South Division champions Lakeshore. Both starters had excellent performances- Bomber right-hander Jacob Waguespack (Ole Miss) allowed just three hits over eight shutout innings in a no-decision. Lakeshore starter and NWL Pitcher of the Night James Teague (Arkansas) was equally dominant over six innings, allowing just one hit while striking out eight. However, after both bullpens held the opposing offenses quiet, it came down to Spencer Thornton's (San Diego St) leadoff triple against Chinook reliever Sterling Koerner (FGCU) on the first pitch he threw. Then, on the ninth pitch of an at-bat to Bryan Daniello, he threw a wild pitch to score Thronton and take the loss.
La Crosse 7, Green Bay 0
A new start in the second half the season was a relief to La Crosse, as they snapped a two game skid with a convincing 7-0 win over Green Bay. The Loggers offense, which picked up 15 hits, got to Bullfrog starter Zac Butler (Lincoln Memorial) as they scored five runs and chased him in the fifth. Ryne Birk (Texas A&M) and Ryan Kirby (San Diego) both hit home runs on two-RBI days, with Kirby's being his third on the season. Mike Nadratowski (Grand Valley St) added a three-hit day to support La Crosse starter Ty Provencher (Long Beach St), who went six plus innings for the second consecutive. He picked up the win and allowed just two hits while striking out four.
Madison 8, Kalamazoo 1
Three multi-run innings gave Madison an easy second-half opening win, 8-1 over Kalamazoo for their third straight win. Both making their Mallards debut, Connor Marabell (Jacksonville) drove in three runs on a three-hit day while Trace Tam Sing (Washington St) hit a home run and picked up a pair of RBIs. The pair of strong hitting performances supported starter Kirby Snead (Florida), who made his longest start of the summer. Snead went six innings and gave up just one run on two hits while striking out five. The bullpen combined for a scoreless two innings as the Growlers were held to just two total hits.
Wisconsin 4, Wisconsin Rapids 3
A three-run eighth turned a multi-run deficit into a win as the Woodchucks picked up a much needed win after going just 3-8 down the stretch. Wisconsin downed the Rafters, 4-3 as Wisconsin Rapids left 12 runnes on base and saw their bullpen collapse after a dominant start from Domenic Mazza (UC Santa Barbara). Mazza struck out nine and allowed just one run over six innings in his second start of the season, both no-decisions. Rafters reliever Antonio Gonzales (UC Riverside) got just one out in the ninth as he gave up a one-out home run to Jake Jeffries (Cal State Fullerton) before loading the bases. He left but two of the inherited runners scored to hand Gonzales the loss and Wisconsin reliever Tim McElroy (Purdue) the win.
Duluth 8, Rochester 7
Duluth fought off a late five-run rally from Rochester to down the Honkers, 8-7, to snap a two-game losing skid. The Huskies scored four runs in the fifth to chase Rochester starter Nick Gruener (Harvard), and the runs ended up being the difference as the Honkers rallied. They scored five runs over the seventh and eighth but Duluth had an insurance run. Much of the offense came from Alex Michaels (Cal Poly), who slugged a grand slam that proved to be the game-winner in a sense. Michaels has had an instant impact through just 11 games with the Huskies, as he already has six RBIs. Steve Villines (Kansas) struck out three over the final two innings and didn't allow a run to preserve Duluth's lead and pick up the save. As a side note, Rochester's Jeff Campbell (North Dakota) extended his Northwoods League-leading hit streak to 13 games with a single in the second.
Waterloo 3, Eau Claire 2 (11 innings)
After trailing by one for most of the game, Waterloo pushed it to extras with a game-tying run in the eighth and eventually walked off against Eau Claire, 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th. Jon McAllister (Long Island) hit a RBI double with two outs in the eighth for his lone hit of the day while Kevin Kaczmarksi's (Evansville) only hit won it for the Bucks- a RBI single also coming with two outs. Eau Claire out-hit Waterloo, 10-6, but managed just four hits from the fifth inning on. Aaron Myers (Longwood) struck out three over the final two innings to pick up the win for the Bucks, who won their third straight and eighth in their last ten games.
Manktato 9, Willmar 5
Five doubles and a pair of three-run innings boosted Mankato to a 9-5 victory over the first half Northern Divison champion Stingers. Willmar scored three in the fifth but a three-run third and fifth had put the game out of reach. Mankato first basemen and NWL player of the night Levi Scott (UT-Arlington) drove in four runs as he had a pair of doubles- one clearing the bases in the third. The MoonDogs used a duo of Alex Hackerott (Oklahoma St) and Tyler Mark (Cal St Dominguez) to shut down the Stingers down the stretch, with Mark getting his fifth save and Hackerott the win.
Kenosha 14, St. Cloud 3
Three innings of 3+ runs gave Kenosha an easy win as they routed St. Cloud, 14-3. Three Kingfish had multi-RBI days while all but two starters picked up hits. Alex Dunlap (Stanford) went a perfect 4-4 at the plate with a double and a solo home run, coming up a triple short of the cycle. Teammates Pat Porter (Ohio State), CJ Saylor (San Diego St) and Taylor Douglas (Tennessee-Martin) all drove in two runs for Kenosha. Starter Rico Garcia (Hawaii-Pacific) was dominant as usual, allowing just one hit over six shutout innings while striking out three to lower his season ERA to 1.85.
Thursday's Schedule (all games at 7:05 unless otherwise noted)
Thunder Bay at Alexandria (6:35)
Eau Claire at Waterloo (6:35)
Wisconsin at Wisconsin Rapids
Duluth at Rochester
St. Cloud at Kenosha
Green Bay at La Crosse
Kalamazoo at Madison
Willmar at Mankato
Lakeshore at Battle Creek (7:35)