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Chinooks’ Bats Come Alive in 10-0 Rout of Rockford

 

Mequon, WI – The Lakeshore Chinooks were once again led by strong starting pitching in a 10-0 victory Friday night against the Rockford Rivets at Kapco Park. Lakeshore’s first shutout of the season coincided with a much-needed outburst on offense as the Chinooks pounded 13 hits and drew 10 walks at the plate. The win moves the Chinooks (6-5) back above the .500 mark for the second time this season and into a tie with the Rivets (6-5) in the Northwoods League South Division standings.

“The guys are really starting to gel a bit now, and that’s the fun part,” manager Travis Akre said. “Guys are getting settled in and starting to get comfortable a bit, so tonight was a good effort.”

Starting pitcher Brendan McGuigan, making his second start and third appearance of the season, pitched into the seventh inning while allowing just one runner to reach scoring position. In 13 innings this season, McGuigan has yet to allow an earned run. He struck out four in his outing Friday and earned his first win of the year. He has as many strikeouts (10) this year as baserunners allowed.

“We were able to score some runs pretty early and that got him settled in,” Akre said. “It’s easier to pitch when you’ve got a lead. You can attack a little more rather than trying to nibble so much.”

Relief pitchers James Wright IV and Kyle Schmitt combined to record the final nine outs to preserve the shutout. The clean performance by Lakeshore’s pitching staff coupled with the lopsided score overshadowed what was at times a sloppy game on a cool, wet night on the shores of Lake Michigan.

Rockford committed five errors in the field, two of which directly led to runs. The Rivets made up for their defensive miscues, however, as they threw Chinooks runners out on the basepaths on three separate occasions. While Lakeshore received extra baserunners thanks to porous defense and gave baserunners back due to baserunning mistakes, the team’s collective performance at the plate was more than enough to outshine the sloppiness in the field and baselines.

“Guys were really patient tonight,” Akre said. “It’s good to see guys out here with the home crowd staying with it. There was really good communication in the dugout all night long and it payed off.”

Four Chinooks enjoyed multi-hit games and seven of the starting nine scored at least one run. Only second baseman and cleanup hitter Takahiro Yamada did not reach base, despite hitting the ball hard multiple times.

Third baseman Sebastian Holte-Mancera reached base in all five of his plate appearances, going 2-for-2 with three walks and an RBI. Holte-Mancera leads Lakeshore with 11 walks this season. He’s hit in numerous spots in the batting order this season, something that hasn’t affected his production. Akre said that the variance in his lineups is a result of trying to get as many players good looks as possible while also riding the “hot hand” on a given night.

“You’d love to get consistency, but we’re trying to get these guys some work and reps,” Akre said. “We’re still trying to create an identity for this club. We talked a little bit pregame of how we wanted to work tonight and what our matchup was, and guys competed and it worked tonight.”

Right fielder Alex Stevenson, who, despite not being an every day player early in the season leads the Chinooks in batting average and runs batted in, went 4-for-5 with a triple and 3 RBI. Akre said Stevenson is an example of what riding the “hot hand” looks like, as he figures to get more looks in the lineup moving forward.

“We’re going to ride him a little bit here and see how it shapes up,” Akre said. “It’s really good to see him have some success and staying with an approach. He’s having fun and not playing so tight right now so it’s allowing him to go out and play well.”

Center fielder D.J. Lee continued his production at the plate, this time from the five-hole, as he went 2-for-3 with two walks, a stolen base, and an RBI. First baseman Connor Christman launched his first home run of the season, a towering two-run blast down the left field line with two outs in the fifth inning, to put a cap on a four-run frame for Lakeshore that broke the game open.

The Chinooks travel to Rockford to complete the second leg of a two-game series against the Rivets on Saturday. First pitch is at 6:35 p.m. Konnor Ash will take the hill for his first start of the season for the Chinooks, replacing Heath Renz in the rotation, who was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays in the MLB Draft this week. In one inning of relief earlier this season, Ash allowed one run and struck out one.

The Lakeshore Chinooks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Now in its 25th anniversary season, the Northwoods 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 190 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (TOR).  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.