La Crosse, Wis. – For the second straight night, La Crosse used some late game heroics to seize a key win. With the score tied in the seventh, Justin Preckajlo doubled in Thomas Collins with two outs to plate the deciding run in a 4-3 Logger victory over Mankato Sunday evening at Copeland Park.
The Logger (40-26, 20-13) win, coupled with a Madison loss to Green Bay later in the evening, wrapped up the second half South Division title for the Loggers, marking their second playoff appearance in team history.
A night after Chris Engell (San Diego) belted a walk-off homer, Preckajlo (North Florida) came up with another big hit. His double off MoonDog reliever Chris Garrison (Oregon) plated Collins (Nebraska) for the deciding run.
The MoonDogs tried to rally back in the ninth, but a mistake on the basepaths thwarted their chances. With Black on second and Xorge Carillo (Arizona State) on first, Black was picked off second base. Judkins singled to put runners on first and second again, but Ryan Durant (Iowa) grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
Engell had another big night for the Loggers, going 3-4 with his second home run in as many nights and two RBI. Engell belted the home run in the third inning to put the Loggers up 2-0.
Nick Judkins (Iowa Central) led the MoonDogs going 3-4 with a run and an RBI. KC Serna (Oregon) and Black both had two hits and an RBI as well.
The MoonDogs came right back with two in the fourth to knot things up (38-29, 15-19). With the bases loaded and one out, Taylor Black (Kentucky) reached on an infield single to score the first run. Judkins came up with two outs and singled to center to score Danny Miller (Minnesota State), but Cody Fick (Evansville) was thrown out at the plate to end the inning.
The MoonDogs troubles on the basepaths caught up to them, as they had two men caught stealing coupled with Fick’s out at home plate.
After the MoonDogs tied the game, the Logger’s Nick Baligod belted a solo home run to give a 3-2 lead back to La Crosse. The Dogs would tie the game in the seventh with a two-out Serna single before the Preckajlo’s game winner in the bottom of the inning.
Garrison suffered his first loss of the season (1-1) allowing two hits and striking out one. Steve Gruver (Tennessee) earned his seventh win (7-1) of the season, tied for tops in the league, by hurling seven innings and allowing two earned runs on nine hits, while striking out one.
The two teams will play the last game of the regular season tomorrow at Copeland Park. First pitch is slated for 7:05 p.m.