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Chinooks’ Win Streak Snapped at Five

Mequon, WI – After shutting out the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters in game one of the series on Tuesday, the Chinooks returned to Kapco Park on Wednesday hoping to complete the sweep over their division rivals. However, struggles with fielding and pitching, categories in which the Chinooks are ranked amongst the league’s best, proved to be the downfall for Lakeshore, as Wisconsin Rapids came from behind to top the Chinooks 5-4 to split the final series of the season between the two clubs.  

Chinooks’ ace Marshall Kasowski (Houston) took the mound for Lakeshore, hoping to pick up a victory after being awarded a no decision against the Rafters on July 28. Making his eighth start and eleventh appearance of the season, Kasowski had been nothing short of spectacular for the Chinooks all season.

Coming into Wednesday, the big right-hander lead the league in strikeouts (81), was second in the league in ERA (1.40), and first in the league in batting average against (.176). He allowed just 8 earned runs over his previous ten appearances (which is the second lowest in the NWL), and hadn’t allowed a run of any kind in his last four starts, with his last earned run coming on June 30 against the Madison Mallards. Boasting a 3-1 record, the Houston product amassed only 16 walks and 33 hits over his 51.1 innings pitched, good for an impressive WHIP of 0.950.

Kasowski faced off against Eric Ligda (Millersville), who was making his third start against the Chinooks and his sixth start of the season for Wisconsin Rapids. Coming into Wednesday, Ligda had a 1-3 record with a 1.77 ERA, tallying 39 strikeouts and 10 walks in his 40.2 innings of works for the Rafters.

Kasowski’s night didn’t start off as smoothly as he’s accustomed to. After retiring the first two batters in the first, Kasowski left a 2-1 offering to Dustin Woodcock (SIU-Edwardsville) over the middle of the plate, and Woodcock squared up to drive it over the right field wall for his eighth home run of the season, putting the Rafters on the board and snapping Kasowski’s streak of 23 consecutive scoreless innings.

The lead didn’t last long, as the Chinooks answered in the bottom of the third. Back-to-back two-out singles by Zac Taylor (Houston) and Matt Reardon (Florida Gulf Coast) got things going for Lakeshore. Then, an RBI single up the middle by Joe Duncan (Eastern Illinois) scored Taylor from second to even the game at 1-1.

The Chinooks took the lead in the fourth. Kevin Riley (Chaffey CC) welcomed Ligda back on the mound by smoking the first pitch of the inning over the fence in left-center, giving the Chinooks a 2-1 lead on Riley’s fifth homer on the season.

The Chinooks continued to tack on more runs in the bottom of the sixth. After Kevin Riley was hit by a pitch and back-to-back walks were issued to Kurtis Brown (Richmond) and James Bleming (Lehigh) to load the bases, Ligda was pulled from the game and replaced by Blair Lakso (Buffalo). Lakso proceeded to walk Royce Ando (Michigan State) to score Riley, then Cole McDevitt (Minnesota) grounded out to second to score Brown to widen the gap to 4-1.

Kasowski exited the game after the sixth after holding the Rafters’ offense to just one run on two hits, uncharacteristically issuing five walks with only three strikeouts. Zach Reeg (Augustana) came on in relief to pitch the seventh. However, control issued plagued Reeg right away. After walking Joey Morgan (Washington), Reeg threw three consecutive wild pitches that allowed Morgan to come around to score the second run of the game for the Rafters.

Cole Gnetz (Miami-Ohio) came into the game to pitch the eighth, but his night would be rocky to say the least. With one runner on, Gnetz left a 3-1 fastball over the middle of the plate to Dustin Woodcock, and he turned and drove it out of the ballpark for his second home run of the game, tying the game at 4-4. Then, back-to-back singles left two runners on when Joey Morgan hit a high fly ball to short that looked to end the frame, but Chinooks’ shortstop Royce Ando dropped the ball, allowing Brandon Polozzi (Cal State-Dominguez Hills) to score the go-ahead run for the Rafters.

New-comer Nick Winter (UW-Milwaukee) took the ball from Gnetz and pitched the ninth. After walking the leadoff man, Winter was able to settle down to get out of the inning unscathed.

Garrett Schilling (Xavier) entered the game to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Rafters. The league leader in saves didn’t disappoint retiring the side to secure the 5-4 come-from-behind victory for the Rafters.

Cole Gnetz was issued his third loss of the season after giving up the game-tying run in the eighth, also being issued a blown save for his performance. Blair Lakso was awarded his fifth win of the year, and Garrett Schilling picked up his fifteenth save of the season.

With the loss the Chinooks snap their five game win streak, dropping to 13-13 for the second half and 28-34 overall. The Rafters improve to 16-9 for the second half and 40-21 for the season.

The Chinooks hit the road to start a two game series against the Wisconsin Woodchucks on Thursday at 6:35 pm.

The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd 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 150 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 (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit http://northwoodsleague.com/lakeshore-chinooks or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.