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Pitching Dominates in Northwoods League Opening Night

The 2016 edition of the Northwoods League season began on Tuesday night, and the league's 23rd opening night was dominated by stellar pitching, highlighted by a record-setting performance from Eau Claire pitcher Dalton Roach. Eau Claire, Madison, Green Bay, Wisconsin, Kalamazoo, Waterloo, Duluth and Kenosha began their season on the right foot with opening-night victories. Mankato led Thunder Bay 6-2 after three innings of play before the game was suspended. The game will resume tomorrow at 11 a.m. with a seven-inning second game to follow.

Madison 8, Battle Creek 3

Righthander Justin Watts struck out 10 Battle Creek Bombers as the Madison Mallards won their first game of the season 8-3. The junior from Northern Kentucky pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one earned run on four hits and three walks. Three Mallards finished the game with three hits, including Joe Stefanki, AJ Montoya and Matt Vierling. Battle Creek had 14 batters reach base but struggled to score runs and led the bases loaded in the seventh inning in the defeat.

Green Bay 3, Wisconsin Rapids 2

The Green Bay Bullfrogs began their season on a high note with a one-run victory over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters. Bullfrogs centerfielder Chris Botsoe scored the winning run on a passed ball in the bottom of the eighth. Green Bay starter Mike Ellenbest struck out seven batters in six innings and allowed two runs on five hits with no walks but finished with a no decision. Also with a no decision was Rafters' starter Jay Peters, who threw six innings and allowed two runs on six hits with a pair of strikeouts. Green Bay's Hunter Owen hit 2-for-4 with two RBIs in the win.

Eau Claire 4, Rochester 0

The game was delayed an hour, but the story of the night was the magnificant performance from Eau Claire Express pitcher Dalton Roach. In his third season with the team, Roach struck out the first 12 batters he faced and finished with the game with 18 strikeouts to set a new team record. The Minnesota State sophomore allowed just two hits over eight innings for the victory. Roach was named the Northwoods League Pitcher of the Night for his gem. Tyler Jones, who is a junior for Air Force, finished 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs for the Express.

Wisconsin 6, Rockford 5

After taking an early lead, the Rockford Rivets suffered a close loss to the Wisconsin Woodchucks in the first game of their inaugural season. Rockford scored three runs in the second to take the advantage, but Austin Blakeley's grand slam in the fifth inning proved to be the difference. Rivets' designated hitter Neal Tyrell finished with three hits with a double and a RBI. Scott Parker earned the victory in relief for the Woodchucks, who begin their season 1-0.

Kalamazoo 4, Lakeshore 2

Pitcher Tate Brawley picked up the victory for the Kalamazoo Growlers over 6 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and two runs with two walks and a pair of strikeouts. Lakeshore catcher Hayden Senger hit a solo home run in the fourth to cut the lead to 3-2. Daniel Leckie added an insurance run for the Growlers  with a RBI double in the bottom of the sixth. Leckie finished 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs and was named Northwoods League Position Player of the Night.

Waterloo 7, St. Cloud 4

The Waterloo Bucks pounded out 12 hits and scored seven runs to defeat the St. Cloud Rox. Four Waterloo players recorded two hits, including Zac Sanders, Daniel Perry, Tyler Curtis and Colin Kreiter. Bucks' starter Jared Crescentini earned the victory after six shutout innings in which he allowed just three hits and struck out three batters. Rox leadoff centerfielder Shelby Lackey hit 3-for-3, was hit by a pitch and scored a run. Waterloo reliever Brandon Downey threw two perfect innings with a pair of strikeouts for the save.

Duluth 6, Willmar 0

The Duluth Huskies received a stellar performance from three pitchers, who limited the Willmar Stingers to just two hits in the shutout victory. Mitch Bauer earned the win, allowing two hits in six shutout innings with seven strikeouts and no walks. Willmar starter Corey Binger was rolling right along until a Duluth put together a five-run inning, all of which were unearned from two Stinger errors. Binger threw six innings, allowed zero earned runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Duluth third baseman Carter Hanford hit 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored and two RBIs, as the Huskies began the season 1-0.

Kenosha 4, La Crosse 3

It took extra innings for the defending champion Kenosha Kingfish to take down the La Crosse Loggers 4-3. With the bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Kian O'Brien's base hit to centerfield scored the game-winning run for Kenosha in the walk-off victory. The Kingfish got on the board first with two runs in the second inning and added another in the fourth with a RBI double from Cal Jadacki. La Crosse catcher Luis Trevino connected on a two-run double in a three-run seventh inning to the the game for the Loggers, who fell to 0-1 on the season.

Wednesday's Schedule

Madison @ Battle Creek (10:00 AM)

Mankato @ Thunder Bay (11:00 AM – Will resume nine-inning game in the top of the fourth, followed by a seven-inning game.)

Lakeshore @ Kalamazoo (11:05 AM)

La Crosse @ Kenosha (6:35 PM)

Wisconsin @ Rockford (6:35 PM)

Eau Claire @ Rochester (7:05 PM)

St. Cloud @ Waterloo (7:05 PM)

Duluth @ Willmar (7:05 PM)

Green Bay @ Wisconsin Rapids (7:05 PM)