For Wausau Pilot & Review

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – For seven innings Friday night, the Wausau Woodchucks kept the Traverse City Pit Spitters from scoring an earned run.

But that changed in the eighth, as a seven-run rally pushed Traverse City (16-17) to an 8-2 victory over the Woodchucks (16-17) in the Northwoods League series opener at Turtle Creek Stadium.

The Woodchucks entered the inning with a 2-1 lead. After a hit-by-pitch and a pair of singles loaded the bases, a wild pitch by Nick Marshall (West Texas A&M) brought in the tying run. An infield single and a base hit later, the Pit Spitters were ahead 4-2.

The rally continued after the last of four Woodchucks errors on the night, more than they committed in any game during the month of June and their second most all season.

Two of those errors helped Traverse City break a scoreless tie in the fifth, plating an unearned run. Prior to that, they were held in check by the masterful performance of Mike Reagan (Barry).

In his first start of the summer, Reagan worked a season-high six innings and struck out six batters. Since a hiccup on opening day, Reagan has allowed just two runs all season in 23-plus innings pitched.

His only run support came in the top of the sixth. After Amani Larry (Mississippi State) broke up a no-hitter with a line drive base hit, the middle of the Woodchucks lineup followed suit. Base hits by Mark Shallenberger (Evansville) and Zach Levenson (Miami) helped tie the score. An opposite field RBI single by Kaeber Rog (Southern Illinois) would put the Woodchucks in front.

But the lead was short-lived. The Chucks failed to add on after lead-off singles in the late innings. Despite a scoreless seventh inning from Caleb Rutledge (Stephen F. Austin), the Pit Spitters made their move in the eighth.

Michael Conte (Central Michigan) recorded all three outs in the inning that Marshall started. He was also charged with a pair of runs in the frame, including a run that scored on a safety squeeze bunt. The Pit Spitters stole three bases in the rally, continuing their season-long aggression on the basepaths.

The Chucks take on the Traverse City Pit Spitters again at 6:05 p.m. Central Time on Saturday in the finale of a two-game series.