2020 Waterloo Bucks Season Recap – Bucks Win Northwoods League Minnesota-Iowa Region Title in Historic Season

Bucks Win Northwoods League Minnesota-Iowa Region Title in Historic Season

by Jonathan Rawson

In a pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Waterloo Bucks captured the first ever Minnesota-Iowa Region Championship with a record of 28-13. The Bucks were half a game back of the St. Cloud Rox going into the final game of the season. St. Cloud fell to Willmar while the Bucks dominated Mankato, winning 17-6. That Waterloo win and St. Cloud loss secured the pod title for the Waterloo Bucks.

Looking back at the season, the Bucks started as one of the Northwoods League’s best teams. Waterloo won six of their first seven games, but they did cool down in the second week and were 9-6 after 15 games. It was the middle part of the schedule where the Bucks pieced it all together and established themselves as the team to beat. Waterloo went on a six-game winning streak to end July and the beginning of August and put a up a record of 18-8 over halfway through the schedule.

Heading into August, the Minnesota-Iowa Pod was a three-team race between the Willmar Stingers, Waterloo Bucks, and St. Cloud Rox. After a rough week in early August, the Willmar Stingers essentially fell out of the race, leaving a two-way battle between St. Cloud and Waterloo.

With a week left to play, only half a game separated the Bucks and Rox. The race would stay that close all the way until the final out on August 20th where a Waterloo win and St. Cloud loss would etch the Bucks into the Northwoods League record book as Minnesota-Iowa Region Champions.

Waterloo’s title was not the only highlight of the season. First baseman Peyton Williams tied the Waterloo Bucks single-season home run record by launching 13 balls over fences in only 33 games played. The record was set in 2005 by Zach Daeges, who would end up as a 6th-round draft pick in 2006 by the Boston Red Sox. Notably, the 2020 Bucks played a 41-game season, opposed to the ’05 squad that played a 68-game season. Williams led the entire Northwoods League in home runs and was the only player to hit double-digit homers.

Williams was not the only Waterloo player to top the pod.  Jalen Smith led the region in runs with 44. Kyle Manzardo of Willmar came in second with 35. Smith hit an impressive .390 with an on-base percentage just shy of .500. He also led the Bucks in doubles with nine.

Other 2020 season notables include Patrick Ferguson’s six homers, Dalton Shuffield’s six strikeouts in almost 80 at-bats, and the base running trio of Jalen Smith, Xane Washington, and Cameron Thompson’s double-digit stolen bags.

On the pitching side, Blake Corsentino and Dusty Schramm headed the second-best rotation in the pod with an ERA of 1.67 and 1.95, respectively. Corsentino also ended the season ranked fifth in WHIP at 0.90. Out of the bullpen, Zach Button was one of the top closers in the pod with four saves on the season, second-best in the Minnesota-Iowa Region, and an ERA of 3.00.

Even with all the statistical dominance in the Waterloo line-up and pitching staff, the Minnesota-Iowa Pod was the closest title race in the entire NWL. On the back of the loaded Bucks roster, Waterloo edged out the St. Cloud Rox to take home the league’s first ever Minnesota-Iowa Region Championship.