North Division tightens with three-way tie for 2nd place, Kenosha wins fourth straight.
The battle for playoff contention in both divisions continue to heat up, as several teams are very close to earning playoff bids in their respected standings. In the North, Willmar, Rochester and Waterloo are all tied for second place, only a half game back from the leading Duluth Huskies. As for the South Division, Wisconsin Rapids and Lakeshore are tied for second place, while La Crosse and Green Bay remain right on their tail.
Kenosha 5, Kalamazoo 4 (Game One, 10 Innings)
Part one of the Tuesday doubleheader between Kenosha and Kalamazoo descended into extra innings, as the Kingfish rallied from an early 4-0 deficit and walked off against the Growlers in the 10th inning. Zach Ratcliff (Ohio State) served up the game-winner, as he hit a pinch-hit sacrifice fly to right, scoring his Buckeye teammate Nick Sergakis, leading Kenosha to another win, pushing their league-best record to 16-5. Reliever J.R. Holloway (San Jacinto C.C.) pitched a shutout 10th inning, and picked up his second victory as a result. Growlers right fielder Kory Brown (Bowling Green) contributed two hits and an RBI in the loss, as Kalamazoo drops to 6-15 in the first half.
Kenosha 10, Kalamazoo 2 (Game Two, 7 Innings)
In the doubleheader’s nightcap, the Kingfish made things a lot easier as they blew out the Growlers in seven innings, sweeping the series. Playing the role of hero in the first game, Kenosha 1st baseman Zach Ratcliff (Ohio State) continued his impressive day at the plate, hitting his second home run of the season, finishing the night with a pair of walks, RBIs and runs. Starter Ryne Blanton (Madison College) moved to 2-0, tossing five shutout innings, allowing just a single hit and striking out four. Growlers designated hitter Nick Yarnall (Pittsburgh) recorded his eleventh RBI of the year, going 1-for-2 with a walk as Kalamazoo remains in last place in the South Division.
Lakeshore 3, Wisconsin Rapids 0
Lakeshore jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first two innings and blanked the Rafters, creating a three-way tie for 2nd place in the South. Starter Jesse Scholtens (Wright State) performed brilliantly, hurling eight shutout innings, allowing three hits, two walks and struck out four, improving to 2-1. Chinooks leadoff man Jake Romano (Miami Ohio) set the table with two hits and scored twice, while right fielder Lucas Raley (Lake Erie) extended his hitting streak to six games, as well as collecting his 19th RBI on the year. Rafters’ catcher Alex Herceg (Keystone) went a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate in the losing effort.
Eau Claire 4, Duluth 2
The Express scored two runs in the 7th inning, breaking the 2-2 tie, and split the series with the division-leading Huskies. Eau Claire’s left fielder Daulton Varsho (UW-Milwaukee) had a stellar night at the dish, going 2-for-2, registering his second home run in the 5th inning. Reliever Kale Latorre (Montevallo) pitched scoreless six innings of long relief, allowing four hits and struck out three, receiving his first win of the year. Huskies 2nd baseman Jimmy Heck (Minnesota-Duluth) paced the offense with a hit and two walks, picking up an RBI as Duluth still retains a slim half game lead over Waterloo for first place in the North.
Battle Creek 8, Madison 0
A pair of Bombers pitchers platooned together to shut out the Mallards and earning the series split at home. Layne Bruner (Washington State) started the game, going 4 1/3 innings, allowing two hits and striking out six, while Edgar Sanchez (Cedar Valley) went the rest of the way, tossing 4 2/3 innings, giving up two hits, striking out three, and picking up his second win of the season. Bombers left fielder Trek Stemp (Washington State) paced the offense going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Madison leadoff hitter Anthony Gonsolin (St. Mary’s) continued to prove his worth as his team’s most valuable hitter, getting on base three times, increasing his hitting streak to five games.
Wisconsin 2, Green Bay 1
Wisconsin bounced back from last night, handing the Bullfrogs an unsettling loss at home, dropping them into 4th place in the South. Starter Jared Skolnicki (Kent State) turned in an impressive performance, shutting down the streaking Green Bay lineup through six innings, allowing only five hits and struck out two. Chucks 2nd baseman Connor Heady (Kentucky) paced the offense tonight with two hits, one being an RBI double in the 5th inning, which was the deciding factor in the ballgame. Bullfrogs’ left fielder Connor Ross (Fort Hays State) contributed two hits in the loss, increasing his hit streak to four games, as Green Bay now stands a half game out of 2nd place in the division.
Willmar 7, Thunder Bay 0
The Stingers coasted to a game two victory in Thunder Bay as their ace Will Lydon (Pacific) earned his league leading fourth win. Lydon continued to show his dominance off the mound, lowering his ERA to 0.32 as he went eight innings, allowing just two hits and struck out four. Willmar right fielder Storm Wilson (Kentucky) recorded a home run and a triple, finishing with four RBIs; he finished with seven RBIs in the two-game series. Border Cats 1st baseman Mikael Mogues (Seton Hall) supplied the only extra base-hit for his team, going 1-for-3 with a double, as Thunder Bay has now slipped into 6th place in the North standings.
Mankato 9, Waterloo 5
Mankato witnessed an offensive explosion in the series finale, taking the second game from the Bucks on the road. MoonDogs right fielder Paul Panaccione (Grand Canyon) racked up two hits, one being his second home run, while adding three RBIs on the night as well. Starter Connor O’Neil (Cal State Northridge) improved to 1-1 on the season, tossing six innings, surrendering a run on five hits, striking out two. Waterloo designated hitter Mark Hernandez (Long Island) shined in the loss, going 2-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs, as the Bucks remain a half game out of first place behind Duluth.
La Crosse 9, Alexandria 0
The Loggers rebounded from their game one loss at home, shutting out the Blue Anchors, and collecting their eleventh win of the season. In his season debut, La Crosse starter Kevin Flemer (Oregon State) was outstanding, throwing six solid innings, giving up just four hits and fanned four, as he earned the victory. Designated hitter Brock Lundquist (Long Beach State) contributed two hits, two RBIs and a run, raising his batting average to .300 on the season. Blue Anchors Michael Riekerk (Netherlands) got on base in all three of his plate appearances, adding two hits and a walk to his international Northwoods League experience.
Rochester vs. St. Cloud (Postponed)
Tonight’s game against Rochester and St. Cloud has been postponed due to rain. A doubleheader has been scheduled for July 11th at 5:05 PM.
Lakeshore @ Wisconsin 6:35 PM
Waterloo @ Mankato 7:05 PM
Eau Claire @ Rochester 7:05 PM
Madison @ Kalamazoo 7:05 PM
Duluth @ Green Bay 7:05 PM
Kenosha @ Wisconsin Rapids 7:05 PM
Battle Creek @ La Crosse 7:05 PM
Alexandria @ St. Cloud 7:05 PM
Willmar @ Thunder Bay 7:05 PM