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What Could Have Been: Heartbreaking Loss in La Crosse Friday

On the strength of  a two-run home run in the first inning from Harrison Bader (University of Florida) and a very strong pitching performance from Joe Greenfield (Eastern Illinois University) the Lakeshore Chinooks appeared to be in control all night long from Copeland Park in La Crosse Friday evening.  Unfortunately Johnny Bekakis took advantage of the two mistakes Greenfield made all night, belting two home runs, including the decisive three-run shot with two outs in the seventh inning, sending a dagger into the hearts of the Lakeshore Chinooks in a 4-3 defeat

The loss comes at a critical time. By virtue of their win over the Chinooks Friday, La Crosse moves a half-game ahead in the win column for first place in the Northwoods League southern division first-half race with just five games remaining.  All of a sudden there is a third team in the mix for a division crown. The Madison Mallards won again on Friday, their fifth consecutive, to move into a tie with La Crosse for the top spot creating high drama heading into the last week of the first half.

Despite giving up 10 hits, Joe Greenfield was outstanding on the mound. He picked up a season-high eight strikeouts and got himself out of trouble with a pair of timely double plays.

After surrendering the home run to Bader, Steve Hagan was equally dominant for La Crosse, retiring 19 of the final 22 batters he faced.

For a second consecutive night, the home run balls flew out of Copeland Park at an alarming rate. The two teams combined for nine home runs in the two contests. Brant Valach (Eastern Illinois University) got in on the act in the seventh when he launched his second home run of the season to left giving the Chinooks a 3-1 lead.

At that point it looked like Lakeshore was in good shape. Joe Greenfield came out for the seventh and retired the first two men he faced. The next two batters reached base as Greenfield approached the 100 pitch plateau. Manager Eddy Morgan made a visit to the mound and was convinced that his ace could wiggle out of yet another jam. Greenfield fell behind in the count and Johnny Bekakis whacked his second home run of the game, giving the Loggers the lead for good.

Cody Bobbit (Wichita State University) reached base with one out in the eighth but was cut down trying to steal ending any chance of a threat.

Lakeshore will close out the home portion of their first half schedule with a three-game wraparound series against the Green Bay Bullfrogs beginning Saturday at 4:05. It will be Mel’s Pig Roast  Night at Kapco Park. Mel’s Pig Roast is an organization dedicated to bringing “Great Times for Great Causes”, hosting charitable events throughout the local community.