Chinooks Drop Regular Season Finale to Wisconsin Rapids
Wisconsin Rapids, WI- The Lakeshore Chinooks fell to the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 9-3 on Sunday afternoon. The loss finished the regular season for the Lakeshore Chinooks, and their final 2017 summer record is 38-34.
They ended with the fourth seed in the Northwoods League playoffs, tied with the Madison Mallards in overall record, but owning a tiebreaker over the Mallards. In the Northwoods League, ties are broken using a few different criteria. The first way is record versus the direct opponent, and the Chinooks and Mallards finished the season 4-4 against each other, so that didn’t break the tie. The second way is record versus the best opponent, and the Chinooks owned a better record versus Wisconsin Rapids (3-5) than the Mallards (2-6) so the Chinooks officially earned the playoff spot.
Today’s game was a bit odd. First off all, the Chinooks—depending on the Rockford Rivets outcome versus Kalamazoo—didn’t really want to win.
A win and a Rockford loss meant the Chinooks would earn the three seed, and therefore, have to head to Battle Creek instead of staying in Wisconsin Rapids. Rockford felt the same way about today’s results. Currently, they’re in Kalamazoo and would rather take the short trip to Battle Creek rather than head to Wisconsin Rapids.
For that reason, the Chinooks didn't start Aaron Winkler and instead opted for a bullpen game lead by Zach Engelken. Engelken kept things competitive today, but a lack of top tier offense bats and some late bullpen struggles cost the Chinooks the game.
After being set down 1-2-3 in the top of the first inning, the Chinooks offense got things going in the second. Singles from Daniel DeSimone and Brian Sobieski, plus a walk from Connor Kimple, loaded the bases for Nick Pierce who delivered a with a sac fly RBI to give the Chinooks a 1-0 lead.
But, that lead wouldn't last long. Chinooks starter, Zach Engelken, who looked strong in his first inning of work, fell into some trouble in the bottom of the second. Two walks, two hit batsmen, and a single plated two runs and made it 2-1 Rafters after two innings.
Though, that would be the only real problems Engelken would run into in his five innings of work. He posted three consecutive zeros and kept the score at a manageable 2-1.
Engelken’s final line: five innings, four hits, two runs, three walks, and one strikeout.
In the top of the sixth, the Chinooks tied things up after Daniel DeSimone, the 6’5 freshman from Oklahoma State, smacked his seventh home run of the summer of the left field fence to even the score at two a piece.
That 2-2 tie would carry into the bottom of the seventh when Aidan Wojciehowski, who rejoined the team today after a brief hiatus over the weekend, surrendered three singles and two earned runs to raise the Rafters to a 4-2 lead.
In the bottom of the eighth, things got really out of hand. Nebraska’s Byron Hood entered in from the bullpen, and after getting two quick outs via a fly ball and groundout, couldn’t seem to get the final out he needed to get himself out of the inning. In total, ten Rafters came to the plate in the inning and Hood gave up five earned runs.
The Chinooks went down 1-2-3 in the top of the 9th, and that sealed the deal on a 9-3 Rafters win to end the regular season.
Tomorrow, the Chinooks will face the Rafters again for round one of the 2017 Northwoods League playoffs at 7:05. Aaron Winkler (Richmond) gets the start.
The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 23-year-old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 20 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 180 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champion Ben Zobrist (CHC) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM) and Lucas Duda (NYM). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.lakeshorechinooks.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Chinooks as your favorite team.