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Published On: July 1st, 2017


Bullpen Locks it Down Late to Preserve Bottenfield’s Strong Start

Tim Hackett, Broadcasting Intern

Kalamazoo, Mich.- For a while Saturday, the Wisconsin Woodchucks looked like they might run away with a win. But the Kalamazoo Growlers battled back late and it took another big Wisconsin inning and some shutdown work by the back end of the bullpen to lift the Woodchucks (13-19) a 6-5 victory over the Growlers (8-23).

Growlers starter Blake Therrian had tossed seven or more innings his last two starts, but Saturday he barely made it through two. In the second, he walked Ivan Nunez on four pitches, and the was just the beginning. Aaron Soucy singled and Brady Lindsly walked to load the bases, and a wild pitch brought Nunez home and advanced the other two up a base. That didn’t matter, because Trey Dawson brought everyone home with a big fly over the wall in left to make it 4-0 Chucks. Tristan Clarke followed him with a double and Brylie Ware singled him home to make the lead five.

Kalamazoo responded quickly. Michael Diffley led off the bottom of the second with a single and got to third on a hit by Jack Duffy. Ivan Estrella then hit into a double play, but Diffley scored to make it 5-1. It would take them a while to score again. Josh Bottenfield pitched just one perfect frame but did more than just get the job done with run one allowed over six innings of work, the fifth quality start by a Chucks pitcher this year.

Wisconsin got back on the board against Andrew Huff in the seventh. Clarke led off with a walk and Ware followed with a single. They executed the double steal perfectly to get into scoring position, and Clarke scored on Huff’s wild pitch to make it 6-1.

That run looked like it would be insurance, but it ended up being the difference. Bottenfield came out after six strong, and Tyler Luneke hit the first man he faced in the seventh. A single, a walk, another HBP and two sac flies later, Luneke’s day was done. Erik Gutierrez came in with two on and two out, and Duffy greeted him with a triple over Clarke’s head into right-center to bring home two more and make it 6-5. Gutierrez struck out Estrella to get out the jam, with the Chucks clinging to a one-run lead.

Wisconsin couldn’t add to its lead in the eighth and ninth, but it didn’t matter, because the back end of the bullpen was there to lock it down. Michigan native Lenny Gwizdala got two flyouts and groundout in a perfect eighth, and Orsen Josephina got a lineout and two strikeouts in a perfect ninth to clinch his league-leading tenth save of the year and ice the 6-5 Wisconsin win, the Woodchucks’ third win in a row.

Wisconsin’s five-game road trip continues Sunday afternoon in Kalamazoo. Payton Coffman will make his first start of the year for the Woodchucks with first pitch at 2:05 CT.

Tickets are on sale to all Wisconsin Woodchucks home games and the 2017 Northwoods League Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, presented by Ascension. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling 715.845.5055 or by stopping by the Woodchucks front office during normal business hours.