WAUSAU — The Wisconsin Woodchucks are at the top of the Northwoods League in home runs, and they proved why Wednesday night.
Three different players left the yard as the Woodchucks (3-6) snapped their brief losing skid, sending the Lakeshore Chinooks (3-6) to their fifth straight loss in the process.The visitors struck first against Chucks starter Tyler Luneke. Drake Lubin led off the game with an infield single and came around to score on a groundout by Zach Biermann. Wisconsin responded perfectly in the bottom half, however, as Nolan Ryan reached on a double and scored on a double to center off the bat of Dalton Reed to level the score.
It didn’t stay tied for long. Chad Fleischman walked in the third and Andrew Kendrick followed him with a two-run shot to left, his second straight game with a homer, to put the Woodchucks up 3-1.
Luneke departed after three frames, and the Chinooks got to Andreas Papageorge, scoring once in the fourth and twice more in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Josh Bottenfield came in with only one out in the fifth, and Caleb Dean grounded into a double play on the first pitch the North Carolinian threw to squash the rally.
The lead didn’t last long. Dalton Reed stepped up to the plate against reliever Austin Havekost in the fifth and launched his first homer of the year to tie the score at four. After two scoreless innings from Bottenfield, Stevie Mangrum stepped up in the seventh and did what he’s done best: hit a home run, this time to left-center, giving the Woodchucks a 5-4 lead.
The bullpen did its job from there. Lenny Gwizdala pitched a perfect eighth and Orsen Josephina delivered a flawless ninth to pick up his third save of the campaign and clinch the 5-4 Woodchucks win. Bottenfield threw 2.2 excellent innings of relief to improve to 1-1 on the year.
The Woodchucks close out the homestand Thursday night with the second of two games against Lakeshore. Eli Baez will start for the Chucks, with first pitch slated for 6:35 PM at Athletic Park.
Tickets are on sale to all Wisconsin Woodchucks home games and the 2017 Northwoods League Home Run Derby and All-Star Game, presented by Ascension. Tickets can be purchased online, by calling 715.845.5055 or by stopping by the Woodchucks front office during normal business hours.