On Christmas in July Night at Athletic Park in Wausau, the Wisconsin Woodchucks pitching staff got the best present it could’ve asked for under the tree: a 12-run first inning, gift-wrapped for the pitchers by the offense.
It was by far the best offensive inning by Wisconsin this year, and the pitchers were more than able to maintain it in a 12-6 Woodchucks (20-28; 5-8) win over the Kenosha Kingfish (27-20; 5-7) Thursday night.
The visitors threatened in the top of the first against starter Drew Hanson, but Trey Dawson threw out Mike Madej trying to come home to prevent a run. In the bottom half, however, the visitors could not prevent the Woodchucks from scoring runs, as the home team erupted for 12 runs on seven hits against Kenosha starter Michael Costanzo.
The southpaw pegged leadoff man James Davison with the first pitch he threw in the ballgame, and that was just the beginning of his struggles. He walked Tristan Clarke and a pair of wild pitches scored Davison and put Clarke at third. Stevie Mangrum and Hunter Coleman then both hit RBI doubles to make it 3-0. Adonis Lao laid a perfect bunt down the left field line, and Coleman scored when the Kenosha third baseman’s throw went offline to make it 4-0 Wisconsin. Dawson then walked and Chad Fleischman launched a shot to left that narrowly missed leaving the park for a long single to load the bases.
They didn’t stay loaded for long. Jordan Santos delivered a 2-RBI single to right, spelling the end of the line for Costanzo. Nick Long came in and threw two strikes before Jackson Owens unloaded on a pitch and sent it over the left-field wall for his second homer of the year to make it 9-0. But it didn’t stop there. Davison drew a walk and Clarke was hit by a pitch. Long finally got the first two outs of the frame before Lao walked to load the bases again. Then Dawson cleared them all with one swing with a 3-RBI double to center to cap off the scoring at a perfect dozen.
Kenosha chipped away at the deficit and never went away, but, in truth, 12 runs was too much for the Kingfish to overcome. They scored twice in the fifth against Hanson when Sage Bruhl and Tyler Paulsen both hit and scored. They scored three times in the eighth against Zach Siggelkow when Paulsen mashed a three-run homer, his fourth of year, to make the deficit seven. They then tacked on an unearned Tim Millard run in the ninth against Daniel Sprinkle to bring it to within six, but they could get no closer in a 12-6 Woodchucks victory.
The Kingfish swept the Woodchucks last month at Simmons Field, and the Chucks will look to return the favor Friday night. Andreas Papageorge will make his second start of the year for Wisconsin, with first pitch at 7:05 PM.