Bullpen Backs Bats as Bucks Earn 7-3 Opening Day Victory

Lights-out relief provided by Austin VanDeWiele and Zach Jones shut down the La Crosse Loggers (0-1) on Opening Day, allowing the Waterloo Bucks’ (1-0) bats to come alive for a 7-3 victory in Casey Harms’ managerial debut.

VanDeWiele came on in relief of starter Jack Corkery with the Bucks trailing 3-0 following a lightning delay in the third. Corkery and Loggers righty Dylan Gibeau each battled adverse weather conditions, as a steady rain lingered about the Cedar Valley throughout the opening frames. VanDeWiele leaned on his fastball while gutting through 3.0 scoreless. Navigating in and out of high-leverage jams, the NIACC righthander struck out four and piled up 8 whiffs on 53 pitches, scattering two hits and three walks to earn the win.

Following a two-run La Crosse second, Bucks catcher Alonzo Rubalcaba (0-2, BB, HBP) grounded into a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the frame that saw an errant throw by the Loggers shortstop bring in right fielder Cole Brooks (1-3, 2 BB, 2 R). Jake Gitter (0-4, R, SB), moonlighting as a third baseman, drew a leadoff walk in the third and cut the deficit to one by scoring on a wild pitch. Later in the third, Sam Olson (3-4, BB, 2B, 2 RBI, SB) smoked a two-out, two-run double to right-center after a pair of walks, giving Waterloo the lead.

The Bucks added a tally in the fifth with a Greg Anderberg (1-3, BB, RBI) run-scoring single. A pair more scored on back-to-back eighth-inning La Crosse errors, set up by a Patrick Ferguson (1-4, BB, 2 R, 2B) double off the right field wall that placed two in scoring position.

A four-run lead was more than large enough for Jones to protect, as the righthander earned the save by going 4.0 shutout innings, striking out 8 and scattering three hits. Jones notched a jaw-dropping 15 whiffs on 63 pitches.

Waterloo’s lineup worked 9 walks and saw nearly 4.3 pitches per plate appearance.

The Bucks and the Loggers wrap up their season-opening home-and-home series Wednesday in La Crosse at 6:35 p.m. All the action can be heard on the Bucks Radio Network powered by 1650 The Fan, with Thomas Breach on the call.

Box Score