ROCHESTER, MN (PRESS RELEASE) - The 2009 Northwoods League Divisional Playoffs begin tonight with the first and second half division winners opening a best-of-three series. In the North Division, the Mankato MoonDogs travel to Rochester to face the Honkers and in the South Division the Eau Claire Express visit the La Crosse Loggers. Mankato and Eau Claire will host game two in their respective series tomorrow with game three, if necessary, returning to the game one sites. The games will start at 7:05 PM Central with the exception of Wednesday's South Division game at Eau Claire which is slated for 6:35 PM. All games can be watched in streaming video on NorthwoodsLeague.tv.
In the North, Mankato won the first half title by 3 ½ games over Rochester with a 23-10 record. Rochester won the second half championship with a 23-13 mark that was 3 games better than second place St. Cloud and 6 ½ games up on Mankato who finished 16-19. Head-to-head this season Rochester won the series against Mankato 5-3 but the games were extremely close: five one-run games, two two-run games, and three contests going deep into extra-innings (14, 14, and 12).
In the South, Eau Claire took home the first half by 1 ½ games over Battle Creek with a 21-9 record. La Crosse won a tight second half by a ½ game over Madison with a 20-14 mark. Eau Claire finished 7 games back in the second half with a 15-23 record. La Crosse dominated the season-series against Eau Claire with a 6-2 record, including five consecutive victories.
Rochester is making its ninth playoff appearance in the franchise's 16-year history. They won the NWL Championship in 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2006 while also appearing in the championship series in 1996 and 1998. This is the Honkers' first playoff appearance since becoming a member of the North Division in 2007.
Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Mankato are all making their second NWL playoff appearance. It's the second straight appearance for Mankato, who lost in the divisional round to Thunder Bay in 2008. Eau Claire advanced to the championship series in 2007 before losing to St. Cloud. In 2004, La Crosse fell in the divisional series to eventual champion Madison.
Northwoods League Playoff Matchups (Best-of-Three):
Rochester Honkers vs. Mankato MoonDogs, North Divisional Playoffs
Game 1: Mankato at Rochester, Tuesday, August 11, 7:05 PM, Mayo Field
Game 2: Rochester at Mankato, Wednesday, August 12, 7:05 PM, Franklin Rogers Park
Game 3: Mankato at Rochester, Thursday, August 13, 7:05 PM, Mayo Field (If necessary)
La Crosse Loggers vs. Eau Claire Express, South Divisional Playoffs
Game 1: Eau Claire at La Crosse, Tuesday, August 11, 7:05 PM, Copeland Park
Game 2: La Crosse at Eau Claire, Wednesday, August 12, 6:35 PM, Carson Park
Game 3: Eau Claire at La Crosse, Thursday, August 13, 7:05 PM, Copeland Park (If necessary)
Probable Pitching Matchups
Mankato at Rochester - Game 1
Ryan Demmin (5-4, 1.36; Wisconsin-Oshkosh) vs. Drew Gagnon (4-2, 3.11; Long Beach State)
Rochester at Mankato - Game 2
Zach Robertson (5-3, 2.92; Iowa) vs. James Wise (5-1, 2.37; Washington State)
Mankato at Rochester - Game 3 (If necessary)
Bennett Whitmore (3-2, 2.06; Oregon) vs. Bret Mitchell (1-3, 3.80; Iowa Central CC)
Eau Claire at La Crosse - Game 1
Jon Ringenberg (2-1, 2.54; Baylor) vs. Tony Mueller (1-1, 2.15; Winona State)
La Crosse at Eau Claire - Game 2
Madison Boer (4-3, 4.01; Oregon) vs. Tyler Bremer (3-1, 2.85; California-Davis)
Eau Claire at La Crosse - Game 3 (If necessary)
Trent Blank (3-1, 4.43; Baylor) vs. TBA
Game 1: TBD at TBD, Friday, August 14
Game 2: TBD at TBD, Saturday, August 15
Game 3: TBD at TBD, Sunday, August 16 (If necessary)
Director of Operations