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9th Inning Meltdown Dooms Chinooks Versus Woodchucks

Mequon, Wis. — A two-run eighth-inning surge helped the Chinooks, but didn’t add up in the end.

A combination of a throwing error and a turned double play closed a 5-3 deficit, tying the contest at five in the eighth.

Though the Woodchucks didn’t crack, instead firmly answering in the final frame.

“Credit to our guys for coming back, you know we tied up the ballgame in the eighth,” Chinooks coach Travis Akre said. “In the ninth, we get a strikeout, and we can’t complete it on the bobbled ball behind the plate, and that happens, but they made us pay in the next hitter with the homer, and all of a sudden we’re chasing two [runs].”

Left fielder Kevin Kilpatrick blasted a two-run shot to left field — a two-run lead Wisconsin (4-1) never relinquished as the crowd at Kapco Park stood in silence.

Relief pitcher Jim Jarecki allowed a one-out RBI double to right fielder Brandon Trammel, sinking Lakeshore (2-3) 9-5 in its second-straight home loss.

Despite a 1-for-5 finish in Thursday’s home opener, catcher Riley Swenson ignited the Chinooks’ scoring early, providing an RBI knock into left field for a 2-0 advantage in the bottom of the second.

First baseman Griffin Doersching followed the ground rule double with a one-out solo home run — his second of the season — in the third, as Lakeshore climbed ahead 3-1.

Taking the mound in his first start at Kapco Park, right-hander Joe Glassey kept the Woodchucks silent through the first two rounds.

Lacking consistency in the third, the Illinois product began to fold and was lifted after 3 1/3 innings with two earned runs, and Jarecki (0-1) took the loss.

“I think he [Glassey] just ran out of gas a little bit, but I thought he pitched really well,” Akre said. “He’s just working on a few things, he’s taking words from his [coaching] staff that he’s gotta work on this summer, and that’s what these kids [have in common].”

An RBI single to right field put the Woodchucks on the board with their first run, and third baseman Bryson Hill lofted a sacrifice fly to center field in the fourth to slice the Chinooks’ advantage to 3-2.

Signaled for after a one-out double to center field, Chinooks reliever Mitch Mueller prevented first baseman Tyler Macgregor from scoring. The right-hander of Winona State forced a pair of groundouts to retire the side.

The Woodchucks were just getting warmed up, nonetheless.

Center fielder Tyler Kehoe’s two-out double down the third base line threatened Mueller and Lakeshore in the bottom of the fifth.

And then in the sixth inning, they finally jumped ahead.

Catcher Dalton Reeves rocketed a three-run home run to right field, pushing Wisconsin ahead 5-3 while making Mueller pay for leaving a delivery high in the zone.

After a silent bottom of the sixth, Woodchucks leadoff hitter Kevin Kilpatrick led off with a single to left field, registering his third multi-hit game of 2021. The left fielder swiped second base, but was thrown out at home plate, eliminating the Wisconsin threat.

With a runner on first in the eighth, the Chinooks had hopes of placing a runner in scoring position and adding a run for the first time since the third. Left fielder Connor Fiene was caught off the bag, and designated hitter Nathan Rose struck out swinging in the empty trip.

“We just gotta execute, we’re still leaving some guys on [base],” Akre said. “This is the first game where we’ve been out-hit, but we have still left a lot of guys on base, so we just gotta execute that. We have a lot of depth on this team, a lot of talent; we’ll be fine.”

Managing to stay alive through the eighth, Lakeshore used second baseman Brennen Bales’ only hit of the night, a single to right field which secured runners on the corners. Center fielder Nathan Aide’s subsequent walk filled the bases, setting up left fielder Ethan Vecrumba to reach first on a throwing error.

Trailing 5-4, third baseman Dalton Doyle grounded into a double play but sacrificed himself for the tying run in Bales. No further scoring damage was done as Swenson also grounded out.

Though the Chinooks were prepared for one last offensive burst in the ninth, they remained on the wrong end of a humbling hitting display.

Jarecki had tossed two scoreless innings, but the right-hander ran into trouble after the eighth.

The go-ahead run in designated hitter Norris McClure began by reaching first on a dropped third strike, as Kilpatrick lifted a 1-1 pitch over the fence to put Wisconsin back in front, 7-5.

Grounding out to shortstop, Hill shifted Trammel to third base, and an RBI single up the middle tacked on the Woodchucks’ ninth and final run of the night.

Momentum was zapped and Lakeshore’s next three batters were each flustered by strikeouts — a rally-less final chance that handed the Chinooks their third defeat.

“It was a tough night for me,” Rose said on his 0-for-5 performance in the leadoff spot. “Striking out every time is not a good thing obviously, but I’m just sticking to my approach that I’ve had all spring and up until tonight. Just trusting it and getting back after it tomorrow.”

The Chinooks and Woodchucks will get together once more for Game 2 on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 p.m.