Mequon, Wis – The rain and fog couldn’t stop the Chinooks from pilling up runs on Sunday evening. The Chinooks (15-13) defeated the Mallards (7-23) 8-4 and moved within a half game of second place in their division. The win tonight put the Chinooks in the thick of the playoff race with eight games left to play this season.
While Lakeshore’s offense stole the spotlight tonight, the pitching staff did an excellent job containing big plays. Tyler Gronert (W, 2-0) started on the mound today and had one of the longest appearances by a starting pitcher this year. Gronert was excellent in seven innings pitched today, giving up just two earned runs while striking out seven hitters. Calvin Bickerstaff and Anthony Gniady rounded out the bullpen for the Chinooks. Bickerstaff pitched a perfect inning, striking out all three hitters he faced. Gniady pitched one inning as well and gave up a single run. Lakeshore’s lead was at five runs heading into the ninth, so Gniady had a good safety net to close things out.
The Chinooks offense was also potent tonight, scoring eight runs on 10 hits. The first inning saw Lakeshore take an early lead in the game. Matt Deprey had a two out triple to put him in scoring position. Stephen Hrustich followed up with an RBI double in which he reached second on a dramatic slide. Andy Nelson would draw a walk to put players on first and second base with Bryant Diel up to bat. Diel socked another RBI double before the inning ended to put the Chinooks up 2-0.
The next time either team scored would be five innings later in the sixth. Madison finally got on the board with a Josh Caron RBI sacrifice fly that scored Colin Hageman. However, the Chinooks responded right away with a run of their own in the bottom of the sixth. Matthias Haas hit an RBI sacrifice fly that scored Andy Nelson. The Chinooks led 3-1 heading into the seventh inning.
Seven total runs were scored by both teams in the seventh inning. This also proved to be the inning the Chinooks ran away with the game. Madison first put pressure on Lakeshore by tying the game in the top of the seventh. Three straight singles by the Mallards quickly loaded the bases with no outs. An RBI fielders choice and a run scored on an error evened the game at 3-3.
Lakeshore took this personally, and fired back with a five runs to put them firmly ahead. Tony Livermore and Nathan Aide started the inning by drawing back-to-back walks. This brought up Hrustich, who soared a three-run home run out to left field that appeared to clear the backyard patio area. Heavy fog made seeing the ball’s trajectory difficult, but it was ruled fair by the umpires. Hrustich was 2 for 5 today with a home run and 4 RBI.
“It was 3-1 and I knew if he was going to try and throw a fastball I was going to hit it hard. Obviously when its foggy like this and the winds not helping, its tough. But i hit it, and i saw it went pretty straight…I started running and left it up to them at that point” Hrustich said about his home run.
Aide connected on a hard-hit ground rule double and later scored on a wild pitch after stealing third. Zach Storbakken walked and also scored another run after Matthias Haas reached on an error. The Chinooks would head into the eighth inning leading 8-3. Madison scored once more in the ninth inning off a Colin Hageman RBI single before Lakeshore closed out the game.
Manager Travis Akre spoke after the game about winning two straight games and putting them within reach of the playoffs.
“Two big wins. Two really big wins at this time of year. And credit to these kids, today was tough playing conditions…battling a lot of humidity and heat. Today all the sudden the fog rolls in and it makes it a really tough atmosphere to play in. We defended it, and pitched pretty well. We got two really good starts the last two games. Yesterday Xander Rojahn and Tyler Gronert today, two good starts. And our bullpen has been really good the last couple games” Akre said.
The Chinooks will travel to Wausau tomorrow where they will play a double header against the Woodchucks. The first game will begin from the fifth inning with both teams tied at 1-1. This is a make-up game that was rescheduled due to weather and will start at 5:05pm. Game two has first pitch scheduled for 6:35pm.