Woodchucks Season in Review
The Woodchucks’ 2017 season came to a close on Sunday, August 13th, so let’s take a look back at some of the best moments, in chronological order, from the 24th season of baseball in Wausau.
May 31: The One That Started It All
The Chucks defeated the Green Bay Bullfrogs 5-3 in their 2017 home opener, but this tilt brought much more than Wisconsin’s first win. Stevie Mangrum hit his first home run of the season with a blast to lead off the third, his first of 12 in 2017, the fourth-best mark in the league. With his team up by two, Orsen Josephina entered in the ninth and struck out three Frogs to pick up the save, the first of 15 all year, good for second in the league.
June 4: The Crazy Comeback
With the score tied 1-1, the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders erupted for seven runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to go up 8-1. But the Woodchucks responded perfectly, scoring seven of their own in the very next half-inning to level the score again. Fondy then struck for two more in the bottom half to go back up 10-8, but the Chucks answered back with a pair of their own in the eighth before Stevie Mangrum hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth to help Wisconsin to a 13-10 comeback win.
June 10: The Ivan Nunez Game
Ivan Nunez hit .283 with four dingers for the Chucks this year, but this outing against the Madison Mallards was by far his best. The high-powered Mallards struck for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to level the score at four apiece, but Nunez capped off his perfect five-for-five game by hitting his third double of the day to drive in pinch-runner Andreas Papageorge for the winning run in the ninth in a 5-4 Chucks victory.
June 17: The Streak Snappers
The Wisconsin Rapids Rafters won 14 games in a row as part of a record-setting season and were searching for another record for the longest winning streak of the season. That dream was shattered with a 4-2 Wisconsin win at Witter Field. Brylie Ware had three hits, Andrew Smith scored three runs, and Stevie Mangrum homered and drove in the winning run to help the Chucks to their first win of the season over their Central Wisconsin rivals.
June 20: The Doubleheader Sweep, Part One
The Woodchucks didn’t beat the 2016 NWL champion Wisconsin Rapids Rafters once last year. This year, on June 20, they made up for that. Korey Rasure tossed the first of his six quality starts to lead the Chucks to a 9-3 win in game one at Athletic Park before Aaron Soucy hit a three-run home run to lift Wisconsin to a 6-4 win in game two at Witter Field.
June 26: The Shutout, Part One
The Woodchucks managed just one run over five innings against Madison All-Star starter Simon Rosenblum-Larson. That was all the offense they would need as they shut down one of the better offenses in the league in a 1-0 shutout, Wisconsin’s first of the season. Heath Hawkins was stellar with just four hits allowed over 6.1 innings in his season finale, before Lenny Gwizdala, Daniel Sprinkle and Orsen Josephina combined for just two hits allowed to finish the job.
June 29: The Shutout, Part Two
After the shutout of Madison, the Woodchucks gave up 28 runs over two days against Lakeshore. Reeling, Wisconsin headed to Green Bay and, remarkably, produced its second 1-0 shutout in four days. Tristan Clarke’s solo shot off Green Bay’s postseason All-Star Connor Wollersheim was all Wisconsin would need. Gordon Cardenas was fantastic, allowing just one hit over five shutout innings to lead the way, while Armando Gonzalez and Daniel Sprinkle allowed just two hits combined over the final four frames to finish things off.
July 15: The Korey Rasure Game
Wisconsin had two starters pitch seven innings or more all season, and against the playoff-bound Battle Creek Bombers, Korey Rasure turned in Wisconsin’s longest, and perhaps best, start of the year. His only blemish came on a two-run Tom Stoffel home run in the eighth, but Rasure was still fabulous over eight innings, allowing just five hits with eight strikeouts in a 3-2 Wisconsin win.
July 20: The Fast Start
Wisconsin’s offense was usually pretty solid in 2017, but on this day against the Kenosha Kingfish, the Chucks struck early and often, forcing across 12 runs in the first inning alone in a 12-6 win. Trey Dawson and Jackson Owens both had 3 RBI, and Kenosha starter Michael Costanzo failed to record a single out in the first inning.
July 24: The Lenny Gwizdala Game
Jordan Santos tallied three hits and drove in two runs, Hunter Coleman tallied three hits and scored two runs, and Degan Harte tossed five strong innings to pace the Woodchucks to a 10-1 win over the Kenosha Kingfish, but Lenny Gwizdala was the real story. He replaced Harte in the sixth and retired every Kingfish hitter he faced, needing just 40 pitches to get 12 outs with six punchouts over four perfect innings of relief.
July 26: The Doubleheader Sweep, Part Two
For the second time, the up-and-down Woodchucks took on the powerhouse Rafters in a doubleheader, and for the second time, the Woodchucks won both games. Every Woodchuck had a hit and either drove in a run or scored one in a 15-5 rout in game one, the most runs the Chucks scored in a game in 2017. The second game at Athletic Park was a bit closer, as Orsen Josephina tossed four scoreless innings of relief to set up Tristan Clarke to drive in Nolan Ryan for the winning run in the 12th in a 10-9 Wisconsin win.
August 12: The Walkoff
Chad Fleischman hit two solo homers in the contest, just the second time a Woodchuck accomplished that feat this year, but neither of those proved to be the biggest hit of the game. The Kingfish jumped out to a 4-2 lead after the top of the ninth, but the Chucks didn’t roll over. Instead, Yeager Taylor singled and scored, and Fleischman and Tommy Duddleston both reached and scored the tying and winning runs in the bottom of the ninth when Jackson Owens stepped up and placed a bloop double into shallow right to lift the Chucks to a 5-4 win in the second-to-last game of the season.
Tim Hackett, Broadcasting Intern