Recapping the 2022 Waterloo Bucks
WATERLOO, Iowa – From just being around the ballplayers that made up the 2022 Waterloo Bucks roster you would never have guessed the record. Despite finishing 16-52 this season the Bucks were highlighted through a variety of individual performances including three All-Star selections and a selection for the Major League Dreams Showcase.
In May just two days prior to Opening Day, manager Ryan Gaynor informed the club he would not be able to be in Waterloo for the first few weeks of the season. Due to even more complications outside of Gaynor’s control, he would not return to the dugout at Cost Cutters Field at Riverfront Stadium.
Instead, it was his bench coach from 2021, Tyler Willis, who would take the helm on short notice. Willis had to battle through multiple players either electing not to come to Waterloo or being unable to sign a contract.
However, those who were in Waterloo this season shined brightly in individual performances. Multiple players announced they were transferring to a new school including Ernie Day going from Iowa Western Community College to Campbell University in South Carolina, as well as Grant Hubka announcing he is heading to Louisiana Tech, and Shaydon Kubo heading to Illinois State to become a Redbird just to name a few.
One huge accomplishment for Waterloo this season was the performance at the 2022 MLB Draft. 11 former/current Bucks were selected, the most by any Northwoods League team. Highlighting the crew this season was Levi Usher, the only Buck drafted off the active roster when he was selected by the Kansas City Royals in the 10th round out of the University of Louisville.
It was a huge season for All-Star selections as well as the Bucks sent three all-stars to Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin to represent the Great Plains Division. Tai Walton, a designated hitter from the University of Hawai’i; Cameron Cromer, a second baseman from the University of Northern Colorado; and Ryan Guardino, an outfielder from Tennessee Tech University, who also announced he will be transferring to the University of Alabama, represented the Bucks.
Guardino also participated in the Home Run Challenge in Wisconsin Rapids helping the Great Plains Division to win both the Home Run Challenge and the All-Star Game itself.
Later in the season Tai Walton then represented the Bucks at the Major League Dreams Showcase in La Crosse, Wisconsin at Copeland Park. Walton played for “Visiting Team 1” where his team was victorious 18-10.
The highlight of the Bucks season as a team came on the road in Bismarck amid a three-city, eight-game road trip. The Bucks strung together their lone winning streak of the season of three games or more taking down the Larks in three of the four games played at Bismarck Municipal Ballpark including a doubleheader sweep.
Finally, fans at Riverfront Stadium were treated to three walk-off victories. The first on June 20th against the Loggers, the Bucks went into the bottom of the ninth trailing by three before a rally capped off by a 2-RBI single from Jalen Martinez lifted the Bucks to victory.
The next came on July 1st against the Mud Puppies. Trailing by a run, Ryan Guardino stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the ninth and launched a grand slam over the right-centerfield wall giving the Bucks their lone walk-off home run of the season.
Finally, the Bucks walked off the Loggers for a second time at the beginning of August when La Crosse hit a two-run home run in the top of the ninth to take the lead before Brodie Kresser lifted an RBI single into left to win it for the Bucks scoring two in the bottom of the ninth for the win.
For the Bucks overall this season, it wasn’t the result they were looking for especially after a strong 2021 season. However, the challenges this season will be a lesson for those returning and those newcomers in the 2023 season.
Despite the on-field challenges, overall attendance rose by over 3,800, drawing over 33,000 fans for the year – a mark not see since pre-pandemic.
We would like to extend one final thank you to our players, coaches, corporate partners, host families, season ticket holders, and staff for making this season unforgettable. We appreciate you all and look forward to a great season next summer. Until then… Go Bucks!