ROCHESTER, MN (PRESS RELEASE) - The 2009 Northwoods League Championship Series begins Friday night at 7:05 PM Central as the Rochester Honkers host the La Crosse Loggers in game one of the best-of-three series at Mayo Field in Rochester. Game two will be in La Crosse at 6:05 PM Saturday with game three, if necessary, in Rochester on Sunday at 3:05 PM. All games can be watched in streaming video on NorthwoodsLeague.tv.
Rochester represents the North Division in the finals after beating the Mankato MoonDogs in two games in the divisional playoffs. The Honkers got great starting pitching in the series with Drew Gagnon (Long Beach State) allowing just one unearned run in six innings while striking out seven in Tuesday's 3-2 home victory. Zach Robertson (Iowa) followed with seven innings of shutout ball and 11 strikeouts on Wednesday in the 7-0 series-clinching win in Mankato. Danny Brock (St. Louis) powered the Honker offense in the first round with a .375 average (3-for-8) and two home runs.
Rochester is making its sixth appearance in the NWL Championship Series. The Honkers last trip was in 2006 and that team carried the best record in Northwoods League history (50-17) into the postseason and swept their way to the title in four games by beating Madison and Thunder Bay. Rochester's three other NWL Championships came in 1994, 1997, and 1999. In 1994, the inaugural Northwoods League season, there was no championship series, but the Honkers were awarded the title after claiming the best regular season record.
La Crosse, from the South Division, is making its first appearance in the NWL Championship Series. The Loggers defeated the Eau Claire Express in two games to earn their trip to the finals. First baseman Aaron Gates (Pepperdine) was the star of the series batting .625 (5-for-8) with two home runs and five RBI. He hit a 3-run home run in the 10th inning at Eau Claire Wednesday in game two to give the Loggers the lead, and eventually the win, 6-3. On Tuesday, in game one, Gates' home run and RBI single secured a 5-2 victory.
Rochester and La Crosse met four times during the regular season with each team winning two games, one at home and one on the road. These two teams were the best two teams overall in the NWL in 2009. Rochester earned home-field advantage in the championship series because their overall record (42-26) was one game better than La Crosse (41-27). The cities are separated by a 70-mile stretch of interstate 90, making this the closest geographical matchup in NWL Championship Series history. Rochester has been in the NWL since the beginning, in 1994, while La Crosse joined the NWL in 2003.
Northwoods League Championship Series (Best-of-Three):
Game 1: La Crosse at Rochester, Friday, August 14, 7:05 PM, Mayo Field
LAC: Pete Woodworth (3-6, 4.76; Florida Gulf Coast) vs.
ROC: Bret Mitchell (1-3, 3.80; Iowa Central CC)
Game 2: Rochester at La Crosse, Saturday, August 15, 6:05 PM, Copeland Park
ROC: Brian Flynn (6-2, 4.23; Wichita State) vs.
LAC: Richie Erath (5-1, 2.63; Florida Gulf Coast)
Game 3: La Crosse at Rochester, Sunday, August 16, 3:05 PM, Mayo Field (If necessary)
LAC: Steven Gruver (7-1, 2.23; Tennessee) vs.
ROC: Drew Gagnon (4-2, 3.11; 1-0, 0.00; Long Beach State)
The Northwoods League plays more games than, draws more fans than, and plays in venues superior to any Summer Collegiate Baseball League in North America. To date, 57 of the NWL's former players have gone on to play Major League Baseball.
Director of Operations