Willmar (MN) T.J. Renda (Alabama State) and Tyler Foote (Princeton) limited the Willmar Stingers to only five hits as the Waterloo Bucks won 2-1 on the road Friday to notch the franchise’s 600th win all-time. Foote earned the win with three innings of scoreless relief, replacing Renda who was superb over the first six innings.
Catcher Pierce Belaustegui (Viterbo) had two hits and scored the eventually game winning run in the eighth inning on a wild pitch.
With the win, Waterloo becomes only the second team in the Northwoods League’s 20-year history to reach the 600 win milestone, joining the Rochester Honkers. The Bucks entered the league in 1995 while Rochester was a franchise in the league’s first season in 1994.
For the third time in as many games to open the season, the Bucks’ opponent scored first as Willmar jumped out in the bottom of the first. Steven Brault’s one-out triple to right field was followed by Marc Flores’ RBI single to left. Willmar had a chance to add to the lead in the second by Renda would get Brault to ground out to second with the bases loaded to escape the jam and from their he was nearly perfect.
Meanwhile the Bucks tied the game with the benefit of errors in the third inning. With two outs and the bases empty, Connor McClain (Indiana State) reach on an error and then went to third on Pat MacKenzie’s(Central Michigan) single. Blake Hickman (Iowa) then cued a spinning ball up the first base line that was misplayed by the first basemen Flores allowing McClain to score and even the game.
The Bucks had multiple chances to grab the lead with multiple missed scoring chances in the following innings but never lost momentum because of Renda and then Foote. Willmar managed only five base runners after the second inning, and just one following the fourth. Renda finished with one run, five hits and three strikeouts while Foote had two strikeouts and only had one runner reach base via an error.
Right fielder Tyler Peyton (Iowa Central) also helped with a diving catch in the outfield in the fifth inning.
Waterloo took the lead for good in the eighth inning when Belaustegui walked to begin the frame. He’d go to second on a wild pitch and to third on a ground out. Then with two outs, a wild pitch allowed him to score the deciding run.