For Wausau Pilot & Review

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – For a second consecutive game, the Traverse City Pit Spitters used a big inning to overpower the Wausau Woodchucks.

This time, it was a six-run fourth inning which proved decisive as the Pit Spitters defeated the Woodchucks 9-4 in Northwoods League baseball action on Saturday.

The Woodchucks (16-18) erased an early 2-0 deficit with a game-tying rally in the top of the third. After Collin Reuter (BYU) led off with a single, Brent Widder (Evansville) drove him in with an opposite-field base hit. Mark Shallenberger (Evansville) plated Widder with a sacrifice fly to knot the score at two.

But in the bottom of the fourth, the Pit Spitters loaded the bases against Woodchucks starter Nate Madej (Florida Southern). Madej was pulled, and reliever Trevor Ernt (San Jose State) came in to try and escape the jam.

At first, he induced a double play turned by Widder and Reuter to erase the lead runners. But the Pit Spitters did not relent. A pair of base hits gave them a 4-2 lead before a walk and wild pitch brought in another run. An infield single plated another run before a two-run double by Hunter Tabb wrapped up a six-run frame.

Ernt kept the Pit Spitters in check until the seventh, when a run scored to increase their lead to 9-2. Jace Baumann (UW-Stout) finished that inning and later fired a scoreless eighth inning.

The Woodchucks threatened several times but would not score again until the top of the eighth. A double by Kevin Kilpatrick (Houston) brought home Zach Levenson (Miami). Later, an error allowed Amani Larry (Mississippi State) to reach base and Kilpatrick scored to cut the deficit to 9-4.

Widder walked, and that brought Hunter Dorraugh (San Jose State) to the plate. He hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher, whose throw plunked Dorraugh on the helmet just a step shy of first base and rolled into right field.

But instead of a run-scoring error and a chance to bring the tying run on deck, the Woodchucks were assessed the inning’s third out. Dorraugh was deemed to have run out of the basepath in the judgement of the umpires. Wausau manager Corey Thompson argued the pivotal call and was ejected from the game by home plate umpire Nathan Hall. It’s the first ejection for Thompson this season, and it comes after right fielder Ryan Sepede (BYU) was tossed late in Friday night’s game.

The Chucks travel to Kalamazoo and wrap up the first half on the road. Sunday’s game starts at 12:35 p.m. Central Time and the two-game set will wrap up Monday with a 5:35 p.m. game in a battle with the Great Lakes East’s first half champs.