Mequon, WI – The Lakeshore Chinooks had a thriller on Tuesday, overcoming a 6-0 deficit but ultimately losing to the Madison Mallards in an 11-inning game. The story was similar on Wednesday, as the team came back from behind to force extra innings against the Wisconsin Rapids, but they wound up dropping the game in 13 innings by a score of 7-6.
The Chinooks got on the board first, plating a run in the top of the second inning. Third baseman Zarley Zalewski (Kent State), who was playing in his first game of the year for the Chinooks, led off the inning with a single and later came around to score when Jake Romano (Miami-Ohio) ripped a sacrifice fly.
The club did not hold the lead for long, though, as starter Zac Lowther (Purdue) allowed a run in the bottom half of the inning. In the third, he let up another run, albeit this one unearned, to allow the Rafters to take a 2-1 lead. Lowther did get some defensive support from shortstop Greg Deichmann (Louisiana State) to help limit the damage, though, as he made a great diving play to end the inning with runners on first and second.
The Chinooks came right back in the top of the fourth to regain the lead, scoring two runs. Doug Kraeger (Richmond) started the inning with a single, and Zalewski immediately walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. Once again it was Romano doing the damage off of Rafters starter Brian Russell (College of State Island), as the left fielder laced a two-out, two-RBI double to put his team back on top 3-2. Romano has continued to be a great performer for the Chinooks offense in the early part of the season, hitting .333 with nine RBIs, five extra base hits and five stolen bases so far.
Lowther was tasked with holding that lead, but the bottom of the fifth would prove to be his undoing. Most off the damage came off of the bat of Mitchell McGeein (Eastern Michigan) when he smacked a three-run home run over the left field fence. Lowther was relieved with just one out in the inning, and he was ultimately charged with six runs, four of them earned, over his 4.1 innings.
Mike Letkewicz (Augustana College) did everything he could to give the Chinooks a chance to come back, throwing 2.2 scoreless innings in relief of Lowther. It was not always easy for him, especially in the seventh, when he found himself in a bases-loaded jam. He wound up working out of the pickle, however, and in the end, he did everything that manager Eddy Morgan could have asked of him.
Down two runs in the top of the ninth, the Chinooks came back to tie things up. Drake Parker (Vanderbilt) got on base with a one-out single, and Lucas Raley (Lake Erie College) hit a single of his own and later advanced to second on a wild pitch. With two outs, it was Zalewski who came up with the clutch hit, shooting a single up the middle to plate both runners and make the score 6-6.
Jake Tuttle (UW-Milwaukee) continued the impressive showing from the Chinooks bullpen, firing three scoreless innings without allowing a hit while striking out three and walking one. Joe Stoll (Ohio State) looked great over his first two innings as well as he held the Rafters offense at bay.
Back out for the thirteenth, however, Stoll could not hold off Wisconsin Rapids any longer. He let up a single to the first batter of the inning, Zack Domingues (Long Beach State), and while another great play from Deichmann momentarily preserved the lead, McGeein had the final say, driving in Domingues with a walk-off single.
The Chinooks will get another crack at the Rafters on Thursday. After that, the team will return to Kapco Park for a four-game home stand that starts against the Battle Creek Bombers on Friday.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 21st season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, more than 120 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Allen Craig (BOS) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League website. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com.