St. Cloud, Minn. – It was a matchup of red-hot, division leading teams on Tuesday night at Joe Faber Field, as the St. Cloud Rox welcomed the Waterloo Bucks for two-games that would determine who held first place in the Northwoods League North Division.
St. Cloud struck the first blow in the series on Tuesday, winning the first game by a final score of 5-4 in a tight game at the Rock Pile. The Rox (14-6) extended their winning streak to seven games, and tied Waterloo (14-6) for the division lead.
The game was closely contested all night, with the first hit for either team coming in the third inning of the game, and neither team reaching double-digits in the hit column.
The Bucks got the first run of the game, drawing a bases loaded walk in the third inning. Starter Shelby Lackey (Pacific) got out of the jam by inducing a double-play ball to third baseman Brandon Benson (Georgia College and State University).
After a scoreless fourth and Waterloo adding another run, the Rox put up a crooked number in the fifth, driving four runs across in the inning.
Ben Petersen (North Dakota State) and Denis Karas (Cal Berkeley) started the inning with back-to-back singles, before being advanced by a Drew Freedman (Wake Forest) sacrifice bunt. Brendan Illies (North Carolina) then stepped up to the plate and drove a ball to the gap, which fell for a two-run double.
Ricky Ramirez (McNeese State) would drive in a run later in the inning, driving a ball to third, which was misplayed allowing him to reach safely. Luke Ringhofer (South Dakota State) followed with an RBI single, bringing in the fourth run of the inning.
Lackey had a nice outing on the mound, going 5.0 innings allowing two runs on three hits with four strikeouts. Aaron Rozek (Minnesota State, Mankato) followed in relief, throwing 1.2 innings allowing two unearned runs.
Waterloo tied the game by scoring two runs in the top of the seventh, setting up an exciting final two innings.
With two outs in the eighth, Karas stepped up to the plate and drove a ball to the outfield for a double, starting a St. Cloud rally. Waterloo then walked Freedman, giving Illies a chance to pick up another big hit. He did so, putting a single through the infield plating the go-ahead run.
Robbie Palkert (Nebraska) finished the game for the Rox and earned his first win of the season for his effort. Palkert pitched 2.1 innings allowing just two hits and no runs while striking out three.
The two teams will meet again Wednesday night, as the Rox look to extend their winning streak to eight games and claim sole possession of first place. The game will start at 7:05 p.m. from Joe Faber Field, and it is salute to the outdoors night presented by McDonald’s Meats with the first 350 fans receiving blaze orange Rox hats.
Tonight’s game one St. Cloud Times Player of the Game was Brendan Illies, who two of four at the plate and drove in three runs, including the game-winner. For more coverage of the Rox during the 2016 season visit www.sctimes.com.
For more stats and information about the game, here is the boxscore.
Single game tickets can be purchased 24 hours a day at www.stcloudrox.com, by calling (320) 240-9798 or by visiting the Rox ticket office located at the Municipal Athletic Complex.
The St. Cloud Rox are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 23rd season of summer collegiate baseball, the Northwoods League is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 18 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 150 Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (CWS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (CHC). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.stcloudrox.com