The Wisconsin Woodchucks came back from a three-run deficit twice and obliterated their previous season-high in hits, but errors, sacrifices, and one hot hitter cost the Woodchucks (16-22; 1-2) late in a 9-8 loss to the Kalamazoo Growlers (12-25; 3-0) Friday night at Athletic Park in Wausau.
Tyler Luneke got off to a bit of a rocky start in his first start in exactly a month, allowing three runs on three hits, including an RBI double by Matt Koehler, in the first inning. The Woodchucks responded against Growler starter Blake Therrian as Ivan Nunez hit a solo shot in the first to make it 3-1. Chad Fleischman doubled to lead off the second and scored on a hit by Tristan Clarke, and then Nunez hit a sac fly to score Aaron Soucy to level the score at three apiece.
Wisconsin then took a lead in the fourth when Yeager Taylor singled home Stevie Mangrum, but defensive miscues cost the Woodchucks big time as the game progressed. With Erik Gutierrez on the hill, Kalamazoo scored one unearned run in the fifth to tie the game and then scored three more runs, all unearned, in the seventh to take a 7-4 lead.
The Woodchucks bounced right back off Hayden Brauser in the bottom half. Logan Foster led off with a single and Trey Dawson followed with a home run to dead center, his second dinger against the Growlers, the pull the Chucks within one.
Another error allowed another unearned run to cross against Daniel Sprinkle in the eighth, but the Woodchucks answered right back against George Lamb. Nunez led off with his third hit of the day and Brylie Ware followed with his fourth to put two on with one out. Two batters later, Foster stepped up and delivered a double down the right field line to plate both runners and tie the score at eight apiece.
The Growlers had been playing small ball all game, and it worked for them once again when it mattered most. Jack Duffy led off the ninth with a single against Sprinkle, and Drew Huff followed with a sac bunt to move Duffy into scoring position. Up stepped the red-hot Koehler, who finessed in his fourth hit of the ballgame to put Kalamazoo back up by one. Walter Talcott issued a perfect bottom half to pick up his second save in as many nights and ice the 9-8 Growler win.
The Woodchucks will continue their season-long five-game homestand Saturday night looking for revenge against the Growlers. Payton Coffman will start his second game of the season and will be opposed by Tyler Drabick at 6:35 PM.