Madison Shuts Out Lakeshore After Lengthy Fog Delay
Mequon, WI – A long night at Kapco Park that began with a 1-hour, 37-minute fog delay ended in a frustrating 4-0 defeat for the Lakeshore Chinooks (7-8) against the visiting Madison Mallards (12-3) on Tuesday.
The Mallards’ victory was the team’s tenth in a row, a franchise record. The loss drops Lakeshore under .500 for the first time since June 4. The Chinooks will get another shot at ending Madison’s red-hot winning streak tomorrow when they travel to Wisconsin’s capital for the finale in the two-game series.
Right-hander Kevin Tibor made the start for Lakeshore, and, despite waiting more than 90 minutes longer than he expected to pitch, delivered his third quality start of the season in as many outings. He lasted six innings and allowed three runs, two of which scored on one fatal pitch in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded.
With the Mallards already ahead 1-0, Tibor faced a bases loaded, one out jam in the sixth. He induced a weak grounder back to the mound which he turned into a force out at home plate for the inning’s second out, but Madison’s eighth-place hitter Drew Ober delivered a two-run single to center field to give the Mallards a more comfortable lead.
Manager Travis Akre had just called the bullpen to instruct right handed relief pitcher Joe Gahm to begin warming up when Tibor allowed the two-run hit, so turning to a reliever before Ober came to the plate was not an option for the first-year manager. The Mallards’ left fielder made the Chinooks pay, and Akre gave credit to Ober for a tough piece of hitting.
“The pitch [Tibor] made was a really good pitch,” Akre said. “[Ober] goes down to one knee and basically hits it off the ground. At that point, you just tip your cap. There’s not much you can do.”
Lakeshore scratched out just four hits on offense and has just nine hits in its last two games, both losses. The Chinooks’ best scoring opportunities came early, in the second and fourth innings. A modest two-out rally ended in the second when catcher Mike Aiello’s groundout stranded runners at first and second base. In the fourth inning, center fielder D.J. Lee was left standing in the batter’s box when the Mallards foiled a double steal attempt by throwing out second baseman Jake Thompson at third base.
All four of Lakeshore’s hits were singles. The team’s 12 doubles this year is second-to-last in the league. While Akre said he’s seen some good approaches by his hitters at the plate, he acknowledged the results are what ultimately matters.
“At times we had some good swings, we just couldn’t piece enough together,” Akre said. “That’s kind of been the woes of everything that’s going on right now. Not enough consistency with offense. We’ve been working some counts and drawing some walks, but we just didn’t get enough of that tonight.”
The Chinooks are hitting just .224 as a team through 15 games this season. Despite drawing a league-high 79 walks this season, their inability to sustain rallies and hit with runners in scoring position has come back to cost the Chinooks more often than not.
Since winning a season-high four games in a row last week, the Chinooks have lost four of their last six games. In those four losses, they’ve averaged just 1.5 runs per game. Akre pointed to the inconsistency on offense as the biggest reason for Lakeshore’s sluggish pace in the season’s first two weeks.
“We need to develop some consistency,” Akre said. “Now that we’ve got our roster pretty much here, it’s time to try to settle in with what we can. Our pitching’s been pretty good. We’re just not getting it done offensively as a whole and that’s been our biggest difference in our overall record.”
One starting pitcher who hasn’t been as sharp in the early going as his rotation mates is Austin Jones. He will look to turn his fortunes when he makes his third start of the year tomorrow night in Madison. He’s gone 0-2 with a 8.37 ERA in his first two starts. The task will not be easy as he faces the South Division’s top hitting team in the Mallards. Madison enters Wednesday’s contest with a division-leading .276 batting average. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
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.