Arkansas Additions Make a Splash in Walk-Off Fashion
The Chinooks welcomed Arkansas players Brian Anderson (Arkansas) and David Masters (Arkansas) to Kapco Park Friday night as both just joined the team and made starts at third base and shortstop respectively. The Arkansas additions combined to go 6-for-9 at the plate which included a walk-off home run by Anderson in the Chinooks 8-7 win over the La Crosse Loggers.
Early on, Arkansas errors provided a shaky start for the Chinooks defense as both Anderson and Masters recorded an error on throws to first. Those two errors put on unearned base runners aboard for starting pitcher Joe Greenfield (South Suburban) who pitched 5+ innings, giving up 5 runs on 4 hits. Both Loggers were able to score to give the Loggers a 2-0 lead after the second inning.
“I don’t know exactly why (the errors) happened, but they happened and they got two runs in the first and second innings total. From that point we were battling back. Errors happen, we obviously want to minimize it,” commented Head Coach John Vodenlich on the early errors that put the Chinooks in an early 2-0 deficit.
Bats caught fire though in the 4th inning by whom other than the Chinooks hottest hitter, Bre’ Kimbell (Louisiana Tech), who hit a lead-off triple to start the inning. Back-to-back singles to center field by Anderson and Eric Aguilera (Illinois State) were able to bring home Kimbell. The Chinooks were able to bring in two more runners as they batted through the order with German Reyes (Winston Salem) reaching on an error by Loggers first baseman Tyler Kuresa. Masters reached safely on a bunt and Forrest Chadwick (Southern Maine) reached on another error by Kuresa before Charlie Markson (Notre Dame) struck out to record the final out of the inning.
With a 3-2 lead and the hard hitting part of the order up, the Chinooks tacked on 2 more runs in the 5th after Anderson and Aguilera each singled again. Ryan Krill (Michigan State) had a hard hit to deep right field that drove both base runners in.
Pitching with the lead, Greenfield struggled in the 6th inning as he allowed a leadoff single to Richard Prigatano and walked Tyler Kuresa. Greenfield gave up an RBI single to the next batter before Vodenlich went to Ryan Harris (Florida) in the bullpen. Harris pitched a spectacular 9th inning yesterday, topping out at 96mph with his fastball. Harris allowed a single in the inning, but watched a base runner score on a throwing error by catcher Nate Ruzich (South Suburban) to third baseman Anderson on an attempt to throw out Jimmy Bosco. The inning ended with the score tied at 5-all.
After a scoreless 7th from both sides, Kuresa hit a slicing fly ball to right field that cleared the fence to put the Loggers up 6-5 on the solo home run.
The bottom of the order aided in a comeback in their half of the 8th inning with Reyes, Krill, and Masters all reaching base in order with a single, walk, and single respectively to load the bases with no outs. Ruzich struck out for the first out of the inning before Chadwick battled to a full count. Chadwick held off for ball 4, but instead struck-out looking. With 2 outs and the bases loaded, Whitefish Bay native, Markson hit a 2 RBI double to left field to give the Chinooks a 7-6 lead.
With the lead going into the 9th, the Chinooks called on their closer Tyler Sparger (Indian Hills). Sparger was finding the strike zone quite often, but was taken for a triple by Boomer Collins on a 1-0 pitch. Collins scored on a hard hit liner down the third base line by Austin Bailey to tie the game 7-7.
Anderson was up first for the Chinooks in the bottom of the 9th and wasted no time winning over the Chinooks fans as he took a first pitch fast ball for a ride over the center field wall in walk off fashion.
“I was just going to try to get something to hit. (Swanner) just came in the game and was trying to throw a first pitch strike and I was looking for a fastball and he gave me one. I just tried to put it in the gap and it just kept going,” said Anderson of his walk-off home run. “I’m just going to go out and play my hardest every time, I can’t promise walk-off home runs, but I’m going to do my best.”
Sparger was the pitcher on record to receive the 8-7 win for the Chinooks with Michael Swanner taking the loss on one pitch to Anderson. The Chinooks and Loggers will battle again in the series deciding game tomorrow at 6:35pm at Kapco Park.