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Offense explodes in 9-1 win over Thunder Bay

The Waterloo offense rattled off a season-high 16 hits en route to a series-opening victory over the Border Cats.

Box Score

By: Matt Gruemmer, Waterloo Bucks

WATERLOO, IOWA – The Waterloo Bucks (10-5) built a strong foundation to couple a strong start from Preston Church (Western Illinois) in a 9-1 win over the Thunder Bay Border Cats Tuesday night at Riverfront Stadium. Church (2-0) was magnificent over six innings, allowing one run on four hits while compiling seven strikeouts. The Waterloo bullpen went three scoreless frames and allowed just three hits on the night while the lineup set a new mark for hits in a game with 16.

The offense shined throughout the game as Zach McKinstry (Central Michigan) went 3-for-4 and pushed his hitting streak to seven games. Alex Boxwell (Minnesota) got in on the action as well with four singles while teammate Luke Stratman (Lamar CC) knocked a solo homerun to right field to open the contest.

Stratman led off the bottom of the first inning with his second homerun of the season, a solo shot over the wall in right field. Taylor Boyd (St. Joseph’s) walked in the next at-bat and later scored to make it 2-0 when Boxwell hit him in with a single to shallow right.

Alan Baldwin (Hawaii) scored the lone Border Cat run in the third inning after receiving a two-out walk. Grant McKown (Florida Tech) singled him in during the following sequence to make it a 2-1 score.

The Bucks’ bats grabbed three more in the bottom of the third when Boyd, McKinstry and Boxwell each scored following consecutive singles to open the frame. Mikal Hill (Winston-Salem St.) belted in a pair with the inning’s fourth single to open the gap, 4-1. Matthew Stemper (Minnesota) drove fellow Golden Gopher Boxwell in with a centerfield-sacrifice fly later to make it a four-run Waterloo lead.

Stratman opened the bottom of the sixth with a single up the middle, and crossed the plate on a Boxwell run-scoring single that hit the Thunder Bay pitcher square in the back. The lone run stretched Waterloo’s advantage, 6-1, heading to the seventh.

Nick Veale (Minnesota St.) toed the rubber in the seventh and gave up just one hit in his single outing of relief. The right-hander struck out one on the night to move his team-best number of punchouts to 16.

Three more runs crossed for the Bucks after the seventh-inning stretch to widen the gap, 9-1. Straman’s third hit of the night, a single to right field, brought in Stemper for the first score while Weston Hatten (Washington St.) joined the run club after crossing on a Boyd sacrifice fly to deep right. McKinstry, then, rifled a triple down the line in right to bring in Stratman for the eight-run lead.

The Bucks utilized single shutout frames from Landon Busch (South Dakota St.) and Zach Reeg (Augustana) in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively, to seal the 9-1 victory. Busch allowed two hits in his scoreless relief outing while Reeg struck out two in his hitless ninth on the mound.

Waterloo closes the home series with the Border Cats Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. It’s a Big Bucks Cash Giveaway Presented by US Bank on Wednesday.

$500 in cash will be given away, to fans 18 and older, at the main gates every Wednesday home game with $100 as the top cash prize. Media sponsor 105.7 KOKZ.

There will also be a Post-Game Fireworks Extravaganza. Join us for a fireworks show following the Bucks game! Fireworks shows are VERY popular so make sure to get your tickets now!

Tickets are available at waterloobucks.com. You can also visit the Bucks Ticket Office at Riverfront Stadium or call 319-232-5633.

Bucks games are broadcast live on waterloobucks.com.

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The Waterloo Bucks are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. Playing its 22nd season of summer collegiate baseball in 2015, 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 120 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 (WAS), Curtis Granderson (NYM), Lucas Duda (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (OAK). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League Website.  For more information, visit www.waterloobucks.com.