(WAUSAU) - After falling behind 8-1 through six innings of play, the Wisconsin Woodchucks rallied back to tie the visiting Waterloo Bucks in the bottom of the ninth, before a tenth-inning solo homerun by Chris Migani tipped the balance back to the Bucks' favor 9-8, eventually ending a hotly contested, controversial Saturday night contest.
In a game of inches, where field manager Guido Aspeitia and starting shortstop Garrett Yrigoyen were tossed in separate instances, tempers flared repeatedly throughout the game as a series of close plays were a clear subject of controversy with players and fans alike.
After an anemic offensive showing produced only four runs combined in the three nights prior, the ‘Chucks lumber finally came alive to score seven runs over the seventh and ninth innings to trim a seven-run deficit.
With the loss, the ‘Chucks dropped their fourth consecutive game after winning four straight, falling below .500 in the second half to 7—8. Waterloo remained in the South Division's top spot following the win.
The visiting Bucks started out the night's scoring in the third inning, breaking through off ‘Chucks starter Aaron Gates for two runs, as Chris Migani led off with a double and scored as Jeremy Lucas followed with his own double. After Gates recorded two outs, Jeff Popick came through for the Bucks, singling in Lucas to take a 2—0 lead.
Wisconsin answered with one run in their half of the third, but were aided by two errant exchanges between Broyles and his catcher Colin Keefe. Garrett Yrigoyen led off with a single, and eventually advanced to third on a passed ball and a wild pitch, scoring on a Mike Gerber groundout later in the inning.
Gates – who stranded the bases loaded in the first, and left a runner on second in the fourth – struggled in the fifth, surrendering three more runs.
Allowing two singles and a walk, Gates worked himself into a bases-loaded jam with no outs. Sean Borman proceeded to hit a scorching grounder towards Kyle DeMerritt at third base, who made a diving stop – stepped on third base – and made a perfect throw home to turn a probable double into a double play.
Waterloo, however, wasn't done in the inning, as – after a walk – Jeff Popick scored on a wild pitch, and Drew Walsh hit a two-RBI single.
Gates exited after the single, giving way to Jake Long after allowing five runs on six hits and five walks, striking out five through 5 2/3 innings of work.
After making his Woodchucks debut two nights prior, throwing two hitless innings, Long struggled in his second appearance, allowing three runs of his own in the sixth – surrendering a leadoff homerun to Chris Migani, before giving up two singles and a two-RBI Sean Borman double throughout the inning.
Mowing down the ‘Chucks through the middle innings, Shane Broyles began the seventh inning with a four-pitch walk, prompting his exit after six-plus strong innings three-hit, four-walk baseball.
Pat Gannon relieved Broyles and inherited an 8—1 lead, but struggled as the Woodchucks tried to chip away from the huge deficit and prevent a four-game losing streak. Robbie De La Cruz reached base on an error, as first baseman Jordan Adams attempted to turn a double-play and threw wide of second base, putting two on with no outs. Yrigoyen and Brian Carroll followed with consecutive singles to score one, before Seth Batty hit a deep sacrifice fly to score another.
Following a Mike Gerber strikeout, Waterloo called on Jonathon Perez to retire the ‘Chucks leading hitter, Carlos Escobar. With two on, two outs, and a five-run deficit, Escobar – who had fallen into a slump of late – muscled a fly ball over the leftfield wall to cut the Waterloo lead to two, down 8—6.
After Gabe Feldman threw two scoreless innings for the ‘Chucks, the Bucks closer, Kyle Kramp, came on to work the ninth with a two-run lead. After issuing two walks to start the frame, Mike Gerber executed a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners into scoring position. With Escobar at the plate, Waterloo elected to intentionally walk the Nevada-Reno standout and load the bases – however, the first pitch of the intentional walk sailed over the catcher's head, allowing Brian Carroll to score and moving Seth Batty to third base.
With the lead down to one, the Bucks chose to instead pitch to Escobar and bring the infield in. Escobar, instead, went on to hit a deep fly ball to score Batty and culminate a seven-run comeback.
Chris Migani, however, delivered a back-breaking blow to the ‘Chucks in the tenth frame, crushing a one-out solo-homer off reliever Anthony Drobnick to break the short-lived tie.
Joe Zwierzynski came on and pitched the Woodchucks' tenth, and survived after allowing two runners into scoring position, notching the save and securing a win for Kyle Kramp – who blew the save the inning prior.
The two squads will meet once more Sunday to finish off the three-game series, as the Woodchucks look to salvage one game of the current homestand. Brock Heerdt is scheduled to make his Woodchucks debut, as Waterloo sends All-Star Mike Wisecarver (5—0) to the bump for the 5:05 first pitch.
Courtesy: Wisconsin Woodchucks