Battle Creek, Mich.- The Wisconsin Woodchucks and Battle Creek Bombers were locked in a tight, engaging contest Monday in Battle Creek, and the game deserved a satisfying ending. Instead, a late, controversial call forced home the go-ahead run for Battle Creek (20-14), and the Woodchucks (14-20) could not respond in a 3-2 loss Monday night at C.O. Brown Stadium in Battle Creek.
On the mound for the Bombers was a familiar face – former Woodchuck Tyler Garam. He only allowed one hit in four innings, but walks drove up his pitch count and ultimately did him in. In the second, he walked Hunter Coleman and Logan foster back-to-back, and they executed a perfect double steal to advance into scoring position and Ivan Nunez drove home Coleman with a groundout.
Nunez was at it again in the sixth, singling against reliever Jake Hawken and advancing when the pitcher’s pickoff throw rolled all the way to the wall. Chad Fleischman stepped up and worked a long at-bat before hitting a deep sacrifice fly to score Nunez and make it 2-0 Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Chucks starter Korey Rasure was ultra-efficient through five innings, throwing fewer than 50 pitches and allowing just two baserunners, but Battle Creek capitalized on his few mistakes in the sixth. Winston Welch led off the frame with a walk and got to third when Tom Stoffel hit into a double play. But Battle Creek extended the inning with another walk and a pair of RBI singles to level the score at two apiece.
Rasure was sharp enough for his second quality start of the season, Wisconsin’s sixth overall, but this story would not have a happy ending. Wisconsin hit back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with no outs in the eighth. But a fielder’s choice groundout and two strikeouts later, and the Woodchucks had failed to score a single run.
In the bottom half, Andreas Papageorge allowed a leadoff infield single to Alex Howard, and his wild pitch moved Howard to third. He then struck out the next two hitters and was lifted in favor of lefty Lenny Gwizdala. Gwizdala walked the two lefties he faced to load the bases with two outs and up stepped righty Cody Hawken. With two strikes, Gwizdala delivered a pitch that Hawken swung at and missed, but the home plate umpire popped up and declared that Gwizdala had balked. That forced home Howard from third and gave Battle Creek a 3-2 lead. Stunned by the borderline call, the Woodchucks protested to no avail and could not mount a comeback in the ninth against lethal reliever Mark Quimby, and the Bombers held on for a late 3-2 win.
Wisconsin’s five-game road trip continues Tuesday night as Austin Lambright looks to help the Woodchucks exact some revenge on the Bombers. First pitch on the Fourth of July will be at 6:05 CT.