Waterloo returns home on Saturday for the final two games of the regular season against the St. Cloud Rox.
Game 1 Box Score: http://northwoods.bbstats.pointstreak.com/boxscore.html?gameid=373100
Game 2 Box Score: http://northwoods.bbstats.pointstreak.com/boxscore.html?gameid=317239
By: Jared Shlensky
WILLMAR, Minn. – Waterloo (13-22, 35-35) saw its playoff aspirations come to an end on Friday after splitting a doubleheader with the Willmar Stingers (21-13, 39-31). The Bucks won game one, 5-3, in nine innings before falling in game two, 7-6.
Tied 3-3 after seven innings in game one, Waterloo kept its playoff hopes alive with two, two-out runs (both unearned) in the top of 9th to squeak by the Willmar Stingers. With Alex Boxwell on second and Adam McGinnis on first, Lane Milligan hit a grounder to Luke Becker at second, however, Becker failed to make the play, allowing Boxwell to score from second for the go-ahead run. With runners on the corners, Jake Hand reached on an RBI fielder’s choice, scoring McGinnis from third for the final run of the game.
Waterloo struck first for the fifth consecutive game with two runs in the second inning in game one. With one out and the bases loaded, Kyle Crowl belted a two-run double over the head of center fielder Danny Pardo, plating both Milligan and Hand. The double by Crowl was also his first extra-base hit of the season.
Despite retiring the leadoff man for the first time in the bottom of the fourth, Willmar tied the game at 2-2 with a pair of runs in the inning. A wild pitch with the bases-loaded scored Becker from third before Tyler Smith tied the game with a sacrifice fly to center.
Greg Lambert gave Willmar their first lead of the day with a solo home run down the left field line. The homer was Lambert’s team-leading seventh of the year and was his first of two on the day.
The Bucks quickly tied the game at 3-3 with a two-out run in the top of the sixth. Milligan doubled down the left field line to start the inning before Hand advanced him to third with a sacrifice bunt. Two batters later, Robert Neustrom brought home Milligan with an RBI single to center.
Derek Hendrixson (5-1) earned the win with three scoreless inning in relief. The All-Star yielded a hit and two walks while striking out a pair. Joe Vranesic (0-2) suffered the loss in game one, allowing two unearned runs on three hits and a walk.
With two outs and a 2-2 count in the bottom of the seventh, Lambert secured Willmar a postseason spot with a two-run, walk-off home run to left-center. The home run not only gave Willmar the win, but it also extended his league-leading RBI total to 63. Quincy McAfee represented the tying run with a double to left before Lambert belted his second home run of Friday’s doubleheader.
Waterloo had its run of scoring first snapped in game two as the Stingers jumped in front, 1-0, with a run in the bottom of the first. Back-to-back singles by McAfee and Pardo gave Willmar runners on first and second to start the inning. After Lambert struck out, Justin Toerner delivered an RBI single to center for the first run of the game.
Tyler Curtis tied the game in the top of the second with an RBI single down the right field line. Neustrom reached on a fielder’s choice, however, a catching error on the double play attempt allowed Neustrom to move to second. Curtis then brought him home with his first of three RBIs on the evening.
A five-run sixth inning gave the Bucks a five-run lead. With the bases-loaded and nobody out, Curtis pulled a two-run single down the left field line, plating both Milligan and McGinnis. Brody Weiss followed with an RBI single to center before Justin Beck made it 5-1 with a sacrifice fly to center. Boxwell scored Weiss for the final run of the inning with an RBI triple down into the right-field corner.
Willmar trimmed the Waterloo lead to 6-5 with four runs in the fifth inning. With the bases-loaded and one out in the frame, Pardo smashed a two-run double to center, scoring both Brandon Perez and Smith. Toerner brought around the final two runs of the inning with a two-run triple to right-center for his second and third RBIs of the night.
Trevor Patterson (0-1) was charged with the loss in game two, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out one over 1 2/3 innings. Devin Rose (1-0) recorded his first Northwoods League in the final game between the two teams. Rose tossed a season-high three scoreless innings, yielding just two hits and a walk while striking out three.
The Bucks return home Saturday, August 13, for the final regular-season series of the year vs. St. Cloud. First pitch in the series opener vs. the Rox is at 7:05 p.m. RHP Brett Solano (6-5, 4.13) makes his league-leading 14th start for the Bucks while St. Cloud sends RHP Austin Caspersen (3-1, 3.35) to the bump.
Saturday’s game is Minions Night, Reader Recognition Night and a Post-Game Fireworks Extravaganza. The first 500 fans to Riverfront Stadium on Saturday receive a free Minions Cap while all 1,000 minute readers will be honored with a Pre-Game Parade before the game.
The Bucks are also hosting a Youth Baseball Camp before Saturday’s game. The camp is open to children ages 17 and under and will begin at noon at renovated Riverfront Stadium. The cost to attend is $20 per person. Bucks players will run the camp. Individuals interested in attending the clinic may arrive at 11:45 a.m. on the day of the camp with the entry fee and a baseball glove. Each participant must fill out a Player Information Sheet/Waiver, which will be available on the day of the camp. For more information, contact the Bucks office at (319) 232-0500. Camp participants will receive a ticket to that night’s game.