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Big fourth, Repetti’s lights-out effort keys Bucks 8-5 sweep of Rochester

The Waterloo Bucks (3-1) rallied from both a 4-0 deficit after the top of the first and two innings of Riverfront Stadium losing power to sweep the Rochester Honkers (2-2) on Thursday evening in the Bucks’ home opener. A five-run fourth gave the Bucks a lead they would never relinquish, and Cameron Repetti was virtually unhittable in five innings of relief to seal the win. Thanks to losses by both Duluth and La Crosse, Waterloo now sits 2.0 games up in the Great Plains-East First Half standings.

A sloppy top half of the first featuring three unearned runs presented the Bucks with a four-run deficit entering the home half. Paul Steffensen (1-for-2, BB, HBP, R, 2B, RBI, 2 SB) was hit by a pitch, stole second then used a brilliant deke move to evade a tag and steal third on a play in which he appeared to be easily picked off. Gabe Garcia (3-for-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI) lined an RBI single into center, knocking in Steffensen.

Rochester answered with a run in the second, but reliever Carson Longstreth bore down and grinded through 3.0 innings of one-run ball, scattering four hits and three walks to earn the win in relief. The righthander struck out three and worked at a 70.6% first-pitch strike rate.

Garcia opened the fourth with a double followed by an Emi Gonzalez (1-for-3, BB, 2 R) walk, then a wild pitch moved both into scoring position. Daniel Irisarri (1-for-4, R, RBI) singled Garcia home, cutting the Honkers’ lead to 5-2, then back-to-back hit-by-pitches of Gabe Baldovino (1-for-3, HBP, R, 2 RBI) and Tynan Shahidi (0-for-2, BB, HBP, R, RBI) plated Gonzalez. Two batters later, Steffensen crushed a sacrifice fly to deep left-center to make it a one-run game. Garrett McGowan (1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) extended his season-opening hitting streak to four with a towering double to left-center, scoring both Baldovino and Shahidi and giving the Bucks a 6-5 lead.

Repetti entered in the fifth and proceeded to carve up the Honkers, going 5.0 scoreless frames to earn the save. The righthander allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out eight, but perhaps most impressively piled up 21 whiffs on 66 pitches (31.8%) and worked at an 83.3% first-pitch strike rate.

The Bucks tacked on two more as Garcia and Gonzalez led off the eighth with singles, advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch then scored on a two-run Baldovino single rifled up the middle.

Waterloo begins a four-game home series with the Minnesota Mud Puppies on Friday at 6:35 p.m.