WAUSAU (Press Release) - Fueled by four Woodchucks' errors and the possibility of clinching a playoff berth, the Battle Creek Bombers defeated the Wisconsin Woodchucks 8—2 Wednesday night to close out the first half of South Division play.
In a commanding performance, the Bombers put a runner in scoring position in seven innings and — discounting two solo homeruns — allowed the Woodchucks a runner in scoring position only one inning.
Holding the worst team fielding percentage in the Northwoods League, the Woodchucks committed another four errors Wednesday night, bringing the three-game series total to 12.
The ‘Chucks collected seven hits, but forced only one walk and struck-out 11 times — producing only two runs. The Bombers, conversely, parlayed three walks and 10 hits into eight runs.
Woodchucks' starter Jonathon Boersma — who made his first appearance as a full-time player — struggled in his first outing since June 20. He allowed eight runs — five of which were earned — two walks and 10 hits, in seven innings of work.
The Bombers got on the board right away in the first, as leadoff hitter Jordan Dean hit a line-drive to left field, which got passed diving leftfielder Danny Susdorf for a triple — going on to score in the next at-bat on a groundout.
After a leadoff Brett Wiley double in the second, the Bombers improved their lead to two as Dan Dispensa hit a one-out single. Dispensa moved to second on a following groundout, before the ‘Chucks would continue to play subpar defense — as Carlos Escobar's throw to third on a steal attempt sailed into leftfield, allowing Dispensa to score and take a 3—0 lead.
The ‘Chucks would allow another unearned run in the fourth on two singles, a botched cutoff in center, and a sacrifice fly, before surrendering a two-run homerun in the fifth to Troy White.
Battle Creek starter Troy Forton worked a strong seven innings, allowing only two runs off two solo Woodchucks homeruns to Austin Coleman and Mike Gerber. Forton allowed only two walks and six hits, striking out one.
Down 6—2 headed to the sixth inning, the Woodchucks rallied to load the bases with only out, but were unable to break though off Forton, who induced a double-play to eliminate the scoring threat.
Surviving the scoring threat, the Bombers added two insurance runs in the eighth, as a walked and hit batter scored on another fielding error and a groundout — advancing the Bombers' lead to six runs.
Sniffing a first-half championship with the Eau Claire Express leading the Madison Mallards, the Bombers brought in freshman flamethrower Nolan Sanburn for the final two innings, who struck out six of the seven batters he faced — allowing only a bloop single to Seth Batty in the eighth.
With the loss, Jonathon Boersma fell to 1—2, while the Woodchucks ended the first half in seventh place, holding a 12—21 record.
Troy Forton advanced to 4—2 with the first-half championship clinching win, as the Bombers took the series 2—1, and clinched the first playoff spot in the South Division Championship Series, by way of a 20—13 first-half record.
They'll wipe the slate clean Thursday, as the records will be reset, and the Woodchucks move into a tie for first place.
Looking to start off the second half on the right foot and build positive momentum, the Woodchucks will play host to the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters — who finished the first half in the South Division's cellar — for a two-game set at Athletic Park. Tom Briner (2—0), one of the bright spots in the Woodchucks' first-half rotation, is set to take the mound against Mike Russo (0-1), with a 6:35 first pitch.
Courtesy: Woodchucks Press Release