LA CROSSE, WI – Saturday marked the end of the 2023 Northwoods League regular season. Before the Loggers were set to face off one final time against the Honkers, they held an award ceremony for their season and players. Notable award winners were Mic Paul, Matthew Piotrowski, Dylan Lapic, and Ben Zeigler-Namoa. The ceremony was a sweet moment to honor Logger history, both past and present. The Loggers also retired the second jersey number in their franchise’s history, Derek Melton’s number 23. Melton died from a rare form of cancer in 2022, and was the Loggers’ Team MVP for the 2008 season.
After the ceremony was over, it was time to play ball. The Honkers scored one in the first as Dario Gomez reached on an error to begin the game, made it all the way around the bases, and was driven home by Kimo Fukofuka. The Loggers would quickly take the lead away as Brandon Fields hit a two-run home run to left field, making the score 2-1 after one.
From there, Rochester poured it on with six straight unanswered runs. With one man on in the top of the third, Petey Craska stepped to the plate and launched a ball over the wall in right-center field. In the fourth, Dario Gomez would double to score two more. Later in the fifth, Petey Craska crafted a repeat performance of his third inning work with another two-run homer to deep right-center field. Before the fans at Copeland Park knew it, the score was 7-1 Rochester.
But the Loggers would respond in the bottom of the fifth. Two walks and an error would load the bases. Danny Neri took a pitch to the back to bring in the first Logger run of the inning. Two fielder’s choices would record two outs, but also score two more runs. Later in the inning, Aidan Sweatt would steal second and third base before scoring easily on an RBI single by Michael Dorcean. After five, the score was 7-6.
The Loggers, hoping to rest the arms of their bullpen pitchers, put four different position players on the mound. The four combined for one hit, two walks, and three strikeouts. The Logger relievers are lucky the postseason is upon us, otherwise Colin Bergmann, Aidan Sweatt, Rocco Caballero, and Danny Neri would be coming for their jobs.
The bottom of the seventh inning would begin much like the bottom of the fifth. Two walks and an error loaded the bases before Colin Bergmann was hit by a pitch to tie the game. Two more walks would stretch the Logger lead to two before Brandon Fields topped off the insurance inning with an RBI single to left field. After seven, the score was a surprising 10-7 in favor of the resting Loggers. The score would also come to find rest as the game came to a close.
Aidan Sweatt earned his first win of the season while Danny Neri secured the save (both position players). Fans, players, coaches, and staff alike were treated to a fireworks show after the game to celebrate everything the season has given us… but the Loggers are not done yet! They are ready and rearing to play their playoff series against Eau Claire beginning on Sunday. How far can this Loggers team go? Only time will tell. One thing is sure though, you will not want to miss any of it.