Sweeps storyline North Division, Kenosha continues to roll.
Thursday night action in the Northwoods League saw several teams jump out to an early advantage, as five teams in the North Division own a 2-0 record, followed by the other four teams sitting at 0-2. Willmar and Kenosha keep pacing through their schedule, posting their fourth-consecutive victories. Thunder Bay provided a late-inning rally, walking off at home, and shocking the MoonDogs.
Thunder Bay 2, Mankato 1
Heading into the bottom of the 9th inning down 1-0, the Border Cats rallied back, scoring two runs in the final frame, and stealing a victory from Mankato, taking both games of their home series. Catcher Dan Rizzie (Xavier) was tonight’s hero as he hit a ball into the gap with the bases loaded, scoring Carter McEachern (Trinity) and Alan Baldwin (Hawaii) and providing the game-winner. Thunder Bay’s starter Kyle Von Ruden (Hawaii) was sensational tonight, throwing eight innings, allowing just a run (none earned) on three hits, striking out seven, however reliever Anthony Morris (St. Thomas Aquinas) picked up the victory, as he pitched a scoreless 9th, and was rewarded as result of the walk off. Mankato starter Connor O’Brien (Southern Mississippi) turned in another impressive outing, tossing six scoreless, allowing three hits and struck out three, but factored in a no decision, as the MoonDogs fell to 0-2 to begin the second half.
Wisconsin 3, Lakeshore 1
After falling behind 1-0 after seven innings of play, the Chucks scored all of their runs in the final two innings, taking the series finale and sweeping the host Chinooks. Leadoff man Owen Taylor (Kansas) tied the game in the 8th inning, while catcher Albee Weiss (Cal State Northridge) served up the deciding hit, singling home a pair of runs and putting his team ahead for good. Wisconsin’s closer Robert Zeigler (Kentucky) solidified the win in the 9th, sitting down all three Chinooks batters in order, striking out a pair, and registering his sixth save of the season. Lakeshore’s starter Marshall Kasowski (Houston) continued his dominance in the loss, going eight innings, allowing just one run on a pair of hits, while tying a season-high eleven strikeouts, as he has an unbelievable 35 strikeouts in just 19 1/3 innings pitched.
Rochester 3, Battle Creek 2
The Honkers scored three runs in the 5th inning, and held Battle Creek scoreless through the final seven innings, sweeping the visiting Bombers, and improving to 2-0. Rochester’s left fielder Ryan Summers (Louisville) carried the entire offense tonight, going 2-for-3, hitting his first home run of the year, and finishing with three RBIs. Starter Alex Evans (Barton County C.C.) did not record a strikeout through six inning pitched, but only gave up one earned run on eight hits, and boosted his record to 3-0 for the season. Battle Creek’s Brennon Lund went 3-for-4 with a run scored, while Bombers’ ace Alex Hermeling (Louisiana-Monroe) struck out a season-high eleven batters. The right-hander did not receive any run support again, as his 2-3 record is not indicative of how dominant he has been throughout the season, owning a 1.39 ERA through 45 1/3 innings.
Alexandria 14, Duluth 2
Alexandria jumped out to a 13-1 lead through four innings, as they coasted to a series sweep of the Huskies, as the Blue Anchors surprisingly have become one of the hottest teams in the league. Alexandria recorded a season-high eighteen hits on the night, with all nine starters in the lineup recording at least one hit. Ricky Sanchez (Notre Dame) and Jake Merrigan (North Carolina) both went 3-for-6 with a home run and three RBIs, as Sanchez tied a league-high with his sixth, and Merrigan recorded his third of the year. Starter Jake Matthys (Southwest Minnesota State) received his first victory, hurling seven strong innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits, while striking out a batter. Huskies 3rd baseman T.J. Martin (Kansas) went 2-for-4 with an RBI, as Duluth falls to 0-2 to kick off their second half.
St. Cloud 8, Waterloo 4
In a back-and-forth North Division battle, the Rox came out on top, sweeping the visiting Bucks and starting off the second half with consecutive wins. Webb Bobo (S.E. Louisiana) and Brandon Benson (Georgia College) powered their team to victory, combining for five hits, three RBIs, and three runs scored. Bobo’s collegiate teammate Domenick Carlini turned in another solid start, throwing five innings, giving up two runs (one earned), four hits, and fanned six batters, becoming victorious in back-to-back starts. Bucks leadoff man Luke Stratman (Lamar C.C.) contributed a pair of hits and RBIs, extending his hit streak to five-games as Waterloo continues their slide carrying over from the first half, losing eight of their last ten contests.
Willmar 4, Eau Claire 3
After the Express battled all the way back from a 3-0 deficit, tying the game heading into the final inning, the Stingers walked off in the 9th inning, taking the series finale, and winning their fourth straight game. Stingers infielder Brian Pruett (Florida Gulf Coast) continues to be one of the best hitters in crunch time, putting the ball in play, resulting in an error by the Eau Claire shortstop and scoring Tyler Leffler (Bradley), ultimately ending the ballgame. Reliever Dakota Belter (Minnesota State) consistently has shined coming out of the Willmar bullpen, throwing a scoreless 8th and 9th inning, giving up just one hit and struck out a batter, becoming victorious in his third straight appearance, improving his record to 5-0. Express designated hitter Scotland Church (Oregon State) went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks and scored once, as he has hit safely in all five games played with Eau Claire.
Madison 7, Kalamazoo 4
The Mallards scored the final three runs of the contest, holding the Growlers scoreless after the 3rd inning, and collecting the series split. A pair of Madison batters paced the team to victory, as Charlie Cody (Virginia) was a perfect 3-for-3, scoring twice in his series debut with the team, and Jason Goldstein (Illinois) crushed his second home run, finishing with a pair of hits and runs. Mallards’ starter Dalton D’Spain (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) did not have his best performance off the mound, going five innings, allowing four runs on five hits and struck out a pair, but received enough run support to earn the win, advancing to 4-1 on the year. Growlers’ designated hitter Nick Yarnall (Pittsburgh) went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, as Kalamazoo fell to 1-1, and has only won two of their last ten ballgames.
Kenosha 3, Wisconsin Rapids 2
Kenosha scored the go-ahead run in the 8th inning, breaking the 2-2 tie and sweeping the Rafters, en route to their four-straight victory. Kingfish 1st baseman Alex Dunlap (Stanford) provided the game-winning hit, recording his first home run, hitting a solo shot in the top of the 8th, and finished the night with two hits. The Kenosha bullpen held Wisconsin Rapids in check in the final two innings as Ryan Orr (Kalamazoo College) and J.D. Nielsen (Illinois) combined to throw the final 2 2/3 innings scoreless, as Orr recorded his first win, while Nielsen picked up his first save. Rafters’ shortstop Scotty Wright (North Florida) went a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate as Rapids fell to 0-2, losing their fourth consecutive contest.
Green Bay 8, La Crosse 7
The Bullfrogs jumped out to a 7-1 lead after the first two innings, and held off a late Loggers rally, taking the series split. Bullfrogs’ 1st baseman Ryan Donovan (Hofstra) went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs, adding to his league-best RBI mark of 33 on the year. Starter Sam Brunner (Dayton) contributed a solid effort off the mound, throwing seven innings, surrendering three runs (one earned), four hits, and struck out five, as he improved to 3-2 on the year. Closer Jeremy Graf (St. Petersburg) waved a little in the final inning, but recovered to receive his sixth save of the season, striking out two batters in the 9th inning. Loggers leadoff man Mason McCoy (Illinois Central) continues his star-studded 2015 season, as he added two more hits to his league-best 57, while hitting safely in ten of his last eleven games.
Lakeshore @ Kalamazoo 5:05/7:05 PM (Doubleheader)
Wisconsin @ Madison 5:05 PM
Alexandria @ Duluth 6:35 PM
Willmar @ Eau Claire 6:35 PM
Battle Creek @ Waterloo 7:05 PM
Kenosha @ La Crosse 7:05 PM
Wisconsin Rapids @ Green Bay 7:05 PM
St. Cloud @ Thunder Bay 7:05 PM
Mankato @ Rochester 7:05 PM