Waterloo Bucks (20-16) starter Daniel Colwell carved up the Thunder Bay Border Cats (14-21) over 7.1 scoreless innings, leading the Bucks to a 4-0 win and clinching the Great Plains-East First Half Championship.
Making the first start of his collegiate career, Colwell struck out six while scattering three hits and two walks in earning his first college victory. He racked up 11 whiffs on 84 pitches, working at a 61.5% first-pitch strike rate and inducing 50% ground balls.
Patrick Ferguson (2-5, R, RBI) led off the game with a single to right and found himself scampering to second as the Border Cats’ right fielder mishandled the ball. Following a lineout and a groundout that moved Ferguson to third, Blake Berry (1-3, 2B, RBI) crushed a double off the right field wall, bringing home the Bucks’ first baseman and giving his side a 1-0 lead.
One run was all Colwell needed, as the southpaw didn’t allow a runner to reach second base until the eighth. Thunder Bay led off the eighth inning with an infield single, then Colwell induced a sacrifice bunt that moved the runner to third. Casey Harms handed the ball to Brett Lockwood with one out and the tying run on second. “Lockdown” Lockwood picked up a pair of groundouts to escape the inning.
Hitless as a lineup since Berry’s first-inning double, Dylan Phillips (1-3, BB, R) and Blake Wagenseller (1-3, BB, R) led off the ninth with back-to-back singles. R.J. Teijeiro (0-2, BB, SAC) advanced both with a sacrifice bunt, setting up a Matt Campos (1-4, R, RBI) line-drive RBI single that brought in Phillips. Mike Nyisztor (0-3, SAC, RBI) laid down a beautiful squeeze bunt up the first base line to score Wagenseller and bump Campos to second. Now up 3-0, Ferguson grounded a single through the hole on the right side that was knocked down by Thunder Bay’s second baseman a few feed into the outfield grass. Campos alertly read a toss to first, flying home without a throw to make it a four-run game.
Lockwood shut down a two-baserunner rally in the bottom of the ninth, saving his first game of the summer with 1.2 innings of one-hit, one-strikeout baseball.
Waterloo will be returning to the postseason for the first time since 2013. With 20 wins in the first half, the Bucks matched their victory total throughout the entirety of last season.
The Bucks return home to begin the second half on Wednesday at 6:35 p.m. against the Rochester Honkers.