The Waterloo Bucks (7-1) closed out a 5-0 homestand and won their sixth straight with an 8-0 shutout of the Minnesota Mud Puppies (1-5) on Monday night. In their four-game sweep of Minnesota, Waterloo outscored their foes 36-6 and held them to just three hits in each of the last three games while committing only one error over the course of the set.
Ryan Duffy starred on the bump for the Bucks, working a career-high 5.0 scoreless innings with just two hits and two walks while striking out a collegiate-best five batters to earn the win. The southpaw piled up 12 whiffs on 70 pitches, working at a 63.2% first-pitch strike rate and a 72.7% ground-ball rate.
Waterloo opened the scoring in the third as Chris Seng (0-for-3, 2 BB, R, 2 SB) led off with a walk and Daniel Irisarri (1-for-5) singled. Garrett McGowan (1-for-4) flew into a double play with the two moving on the pitch, Irisarri being doubled off first. Seng then stole third and scored on a wild pitch as Cameron Repetti (1-for-2, 2 BB, 2 R, SB) drew a walk. Repetti stole second, then Liam Critchett (1-for-4, ROE) hit a routine grounder to first that was misplayed by the pitcher covering, allowing Repetti to score.
A wild fifth began with Repetti drawing a walk and going first-to-third on a Critchett single, followed by Tavan Shahidi (1-for-1, 2 BB, HBP, 2 R) taking ball four on a pitch that missed all the way to the backstop, scoring Repetti. On the play, Critchett was thrown out at third, bringing Blaine Marchman (2-for-4, 2 R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI) to the plate with two out and one on. The Bucks’ catcher ripped a ball down the third base line that careened into the tarp in the corner, and he was awarded with an RBI triple.
Leading 6-0 in the eighth, Marchman tacked on two more as Shahidi drew a leadoff walk then the former blasted a moonshot deep into dead center for his first Bucks home run.
Camren Landry worked around a walk in the sixth and struck out one to fire a scoreless frame, then Jordan Nelson came on an earned a three-inning save, striking out seven. Nelson permitted just one hit and one walk while racking up 15 swinging strikes on 47 pitches (31.9% sws).
Owning the best record in the Northwoods League through eight games, Waterloo begins a four-game road trip on Tuesday in Willmar with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.