La Crosse, WI – The Loggers fell 8-6 to the St. Cloud Rox on Monday night in front of 2,721 faithful at Copeland Park. With a Rochester walk-off 2-1 win over Duluth, a Mankato 4-2 victory at home over Bismarck, and Willmar splitting a doubleheader against Eau Claire, La Crosse now sits in a second place tie with Willmar a half-game back of the Duluth Huskies for the North Division title. The MoonDogs also tighten the pennant race as they are now just a game back, and extend their wild card lead to three games over the Loggers with five regular season games remaining.
St. Cloud scored first on Monday night with a sacrifice fly that plated an unearned run in the top of the third inning. It was the only run allowed by Loggers’ starting pitcher Zach Pronschinske (UW-La Crosse), as the Arcadia, WI native tossed 5.1 strong innings allowing just three hits and pitching around five walks with eight strikeouts. His two biggest punch outs of the night came with the score tied 1-1 with two runners in scoring position and one out, escaping the jam with back-to-back strikeouts to end the top of the fifth inning.
The Loggers took that momentum into the home half as they scored five runs on two hits and three Rox errors. A bases loaded wild pitch plated Korey Lee (California) from third, and a hustling Donta Williams (Arizona) scored all the way from second base after the catcher’s throw got away from the pitcher covering home plate. Steve Mann (Duke) added another run on his second RBI double of the night, later coming around to score on a sacrifice fly from Bryce Blaum (Texas A&M) to extend the Loggers’ lead to 5-1. Harrison Freed (Butler) made it 6-1 with an RBI ground out that scored Braiden Ward (Washington) from third. Freed improved his single-season RBI record to 58 on the night and Ward extended his consecutive on-base streak to 31 games.
Brendan Anderson (Illinois-Springfield) entered the game with one out in the sixth to relieve Pronschinske, inducing a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning. However, the Rox would explode for six runs in the next inning, taking a 7-6 lead on a grand slam from Michael Borst. La Crosse had a chance to score in the bottom of the seventh, but stranded the bases loaded. After the Rox added an insurance run in the eighth, back-to-back walks in the bottom of the ninth was all the Loggers could manage, losing a heart breaker 8-6.
Five Loggers will compete in Tuesday’s Major League Dreams Showcase as Korey Lee, Braiden Ward, Donta Williams, Ryan Anderson (Nevada), and Mike Rothenberg (Duke) will head to Madison and compete in the North Division showcase game. The Loggers and Rox will do battle again on Wednesday night in the final home game of the regular season at Copeland Park. Come out and enjoy specials all night long at the Lumberyard on Fan Appreciation Night with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM as the race for the second half pennant continues.