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2022 Woodchucks Season Recap: New Look, New Memories

2022 Woodchucks Season Recap: New Look, New Memories

By Jake Herman­­­; Broadcasting and Media Relations Intern

After one of the most exciting off-season’s in the 29-year history of the franchise, the Wausau Woodchucks rose to the occasion by bringing playoff baseball back to Athletic Park in 2022.

Taking the field with an updated brand and the city of Wausau proudly displayed across their chests, the team captured the hearts of their fans in a way that no group has in recent history.

After an up-and-down season, the Chucks reeled off wins in nine of ten games to jump from fourth place to the playoffs – pushing the first-place Rafters to a decider in an electrifying series.

Second-year manager Corey Thompson led the team to a 38-33 regular season record. Thompson’s 82 victories over two seasons make him the second-winningest manager in Woodchucks history behind Steve Foster. He’s the first skipper since Jim Gantner (2007 and 2008) to coach the team in two consecutive winning seasons.

Hitting coach Kelton Caldwell returned for a second season, joining first-year pitching coach Nolan Atkins and assistant coach Ryan Shawley on the staff.

Returners on the mound pitched in prominent roles throughout the season. For a fourth consecutive year, Nate Madej (Florida Southern) and Jace Baumann (UW-Stout) toed the rubber in some of the team’s biggest games – with the latter clinching the team’s playoff berth at home. Antigo native and third-year Woodchuck Nick Marshall (West Texas A&M) tossed a gem in the team’s first playoff victory since 2010.

At the plate, the Chucks caught fire in the second half. Wausau scored 60 runs in a five-game homestand including a franchise-record 23 in a win over Kalamazoo. They hit 50 home runs, tying 2014’s mark as the most since the 2003 championship team, which hit 54.

Thirty-one of those 50 homers came at home. The Woodchucks were 24-13 in games played at Athletic Park for a second consecutive summer. Just shy of 44,000 fans walked through the gates, creating a special atmosphere that led to a playoff push. The Woodchucks won each of their final six games at home.

NWL Postseason All-Star Chase Hug (Evansville) led the way with nine homers and returning outfielder Ryan Sepede (BYU) chipped in seven. All-Star Brent Widder (Evansville) ended his summer by reaching base in 33 straight – the longest streak since Steele Walker’s 45 games in 2016.

Top Moments

First Win of a New Era (June 2): After an 0-3 start, the team earns its first victory as the ‘Wausau’ Woodchucks since 1998. Jared Burch (Houston Baptist) and Mike Reagan (Barry) shut out the Chinooks, 5-0.

A Sign of Things to Come (June 4): In Green Bay, Jack Wenninger (Illinois) and Carter Heninger (San Jose State) combine for 13 strikeouts in a 1-0 victory over the Rockers. This kick-starts a dominant summer for both pitchers, who go on to represent the Woodchucks at the Major League Dreams Showcase two months later.

Three Homers in Eight Pitches (June 12): After hitting just two home runs in their first 12 games, the Woodchucks hit three homers in eight pitches during a 7-3 win over the Dock Spiders. Hunter Dorraugh (San Jose State) tallies the first two of his six homers.

Widder Walks off the Spitters (June 17): Hosting the defending champions from Traverse City, the Woodchucks rally back from an early deficit to force extras. In the bottom of the eleventh, Widder blasts a base-hit to the warning track to plate his college teammate Mark Shallenberger in walk-off style.

Pocket Aces (June 27): Ten days after their first walk-off, the pair of Evansville Purple Aces trade places. A broken-bat single to center field by Shallenberger is misplayed by Lakeshore, and Widder and Dorraugh score to complete a comeback victory in Athletic Park’s first appearance on ESPN+.

Headed Home Happy (July 4): Closing out the first half in Kalamazoo, the Woodchucks earn a signature road win on Independence Day by a score of 7-2. Andrew Armstrong (Florida State) tosses five scoreless against the first-half champs while Shallenberger tallies 4 RBIs. The Woodchucks finish the first half 17-19.

Heating Up (July 9): Trailing 6-3, the Woodchucks score 14 unanswered runs to complete a home sweep of the Madison Mallards. Widder extends his on-base streak to 25 and hits his second home run of the summer.

Offensive Explosion (July 10): The Woodchucks set a new single-game franchise scoring record in a 23-5 home win over Kalamazoo. Two-way player Ben Abernathy (UAB) logs two hits and two runs while firing six scoreless innings on the mound. Every single Woodchuck gets a hit and scores a run as the team eclipses .500 for the first time.

Make it Six (July 13): The Woodchucks win their sixth consecutive game, a 10-3 rout of the Green Bay Rockers at home. Returning reliever Mike Schicker (West Georgia) picks up his first win while Zach Levenson (Miami) starts a streak of five multi-hit games in seven nights to end his summer.

Clutch Comeback (July 16): Trailing by three runs in a pivotal game at Lakeshore, the Woodchucks rally back to win the game in the top of the ninth. After a Levenson triple ties the score, Nik Levensteins (North Georgia) seals the game with a three-run moonshot.

Give Chase a Hug (July 26): Hug homers three times, going 5-for-6 with 6 RBI in a 13-9 road win at Madison. Dwight Allen (Georgia) hits a bases-clearing double to put the game out of reach.

Welcome to Wausau (July 28): Tyler Cox (Eckerd) delivers the team’s first and only walk-off homer of the summer. In only his fourth game with the Chucks, the third baseman clobbers one over the right field wall to help Wausau overcome a 5-2 deficit and win 8-5.

New Faces Shine (August 4): After losing six out of seven games, the Woodchucks revive their faint playoff hopes in an 8-5 win at Lakeshore. With the roster having turned over significantly, late additions JC Ng (Pomona-Pitzer), Garret Hill (North Dakota State) and Elie Kligman (Wake Forest) each record clutch RBI singles in a four-run eighth inning.

WOOOO-chucks (August 6): A must-win series against Fond du Lac begins with a pair of lengthy rain delays. Once the field dries, the Woodchucks storm back from a seventh-inning deficit behind a bases-clearing double from Travis Stapleton (Polk State). The loud cheering of superfan Petey Johnson – one of only a handful who stayed through the five-hour affair – becomes a rallying cry for the team.

Two Games, Two Gems (August 8, 9): Anchored by seven-inning masterpieces from Matt Milner (SWOSU) and Marshall, the Woodchucks extend their winning streak to seven. For the first time all summer, they control their own playoff destiny.

On the Brink (August 11): After the winning streak finally ends, a 3-1 win over Green Bay gets the Chucks right back on track. With pitching stretched thin, starter Adrian Lopez (Menlo) throws six strong innings and Wausau native Brock Warren (Ripon) strands the bases loaded in a dramatic save. The Woodchucks’ magic number sits at one with two games to play.

Clinched (August 12): In front of a sellout crowd at Athletic Park, the Woodchucks win for the ninth time in ten days to punch their ticket to the NWL playoffs. The game is a classic pitchers’ duel – with Baumann on the mound for Wausau throwing five perfect frames to start. The Chucks do not score until the eighth, but Cox’s two-RBI single is all they need to beat Madison by a final tally of 2-1.

Staying Alive (August 14): The Woodchucks put together a dominant performance to win game two of their playoff series in Wisconsin Rapids. Marshall strikes out twelve over 6.2 innings while Drew Stengren (Central Michigan), Hug and Cox all homer in an 11-1 victory.

Looking Ahead

There is so much to look forward to in 2023 as the Woodchucks prepare for their 30th season. Thank you to all of the players, coaches, fans and employees who made 2022 one of the most memorable yet.

Watch for the release of the 2023 schedule later this year. Be sure to follow the Woodchucks on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok to stay up to date on all your Woodchucks news during the off season!

For questions, please call us at 715.845.5055, stop by our front office, or visit woodchucks.com!