Woodchucks Walkoff Kingfish Thanks to Owens’ Ninth Inning Double
Fleischman Homers Twice and Scores Tying Run; Chucks’ Defense Superb in 5-4 Wisconsin Win
Wausau, Wis. – Trailing by two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Superhero Night at Athletic Park, the Wisconsin Woodchucks were searching for a superhero. Down by two with two men in scoring position with two outs, the Chucks found their hero: Jackson Owens, who delivered a bloop double into shallow right field to force home both runner and lift the Woodchucks (26-45; 11-25) to a 5-4 win over the Kenosha Kingfish. The Kingfish (35-36; 13-23) fell on a walkoff for the second straight day, officially eliminating them from playoff contention in 2017.
Orsen Josephina, who sits in second in the Northwoods League with 15 saves, made his first start of the summer for the Chucks and pitched well, with Kenosha only able to scrape through against him in the second. Derek Bangert led off with a walk and Connor Moroder followed with a single. Cam Comer replaced Moroder on a fielder’s choice, and with two outs, Comer baited a throw to second from Wisconsin catcher Hunter Coleman, allowing Bangert to cross home to put the visitors up 1-0.
But the Woodchucks responded immediately against Kingfish starter Nick McLees when Chad Fleischman led off the second inning with a big fly to left, his fourth homer of the year. Both starters locked it down after that, and Kenosha finally got back on the board against Jake Gross in the sixth. Mike Madej got on to start the frame after an error and nearly scored, but third baseman Tommy Duddleston threw him out at the plate on a fielder’s choice hit into by Bangert. It didn’t matter much, however, because the next man, Moroder, buried a triple to force home Bangert and put Kenosha up 2-1.
Once again, however, the Woodchucks responded immediately when Chad Fleischman led off the seventh with another solo homer down the left-field line to level the score at two. Duddleston and Coleman robbed another Kingfish run in the seventh, but Kenosha broke through in the eighth. Madej reached on a walk and Nick Kanavas looked like he hit a sure run-scoring double, but Mike Ferri threw Madej out at home to preserve the tie. It didn’t stay preserved for long, however, because Bangert stepped in and drove Kanavas home before Coleman threw him out at second to end the inning.
Beau Zeihen came in for the ninth to keep the Woodchucks within one, but he was unable to do so. Moroder led off with a single and got the second on a sac bunt before Comer doubled him home to make it 4-2.
Justin Hasek already had one multi-inning save against the Woodchucks this year, and after a perfect eighth he looked like he might get another. But the Woodchucks had other ideas. With one out, Yeager Taylor hit a single and Fleischman followed by hitting a weak bouncer back to the mound that Hasek picked up and rocketed over the glove of his first baseman and back to the wall, allowing Taylor and Fleischman to both get into scoring position. Tommy Duddleston drew a walk in his first game as a Woodchuck to load the bases, and Jordan Carlson stepped in and mashed a sharp grounder that Moroder fielded, but he could only get the out at first, allowing Taylor to score and both other runners to advance, making it a one run game. Up stepped Jackson Owens, who didn’t have a hit all game. On Hasek’s first pitch, Owens popped the baseball up half a mile high into the Wausau night sky, and it fell right between the reaches of the Kenosha first baseman, second baseman and right fielder. Fleischman and Duddleston both scored with ease, and Owens hustled in to second with a walkoff double, lifting Wisconsin to a 5-4 win.
Winners of two in a row, the Woodchucks will look to end the 2017 season on a high note with a chance to split the season series with the Kingfish. Degan Harte will get the nod for Wisconsin against Kenosha’s Nick Long, with first pitch of Game 72 slated for 3:05 PM.
Tickets are on sale to all Wisconsin Woodchucks home games and can be purchased online by calling 715.845.5055 or by stopping by the Woodchucks front office during normal business hours.
Tim Hackett, Broadcasting Intern