For Wausau Pilot & Review

KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Despite a season-high 16 hits, the Wausau Woodchucks (16-19) lost by a score of 15-12 against the Kalamazoo Growlers (22-13) in a Northwoods League baseball game at Homer Stryker Field on Sunday afternoon.

The series opener featured a combined 33 hits and eight errors — both season-highs for the Woodchucks, who have now lost three straight games on this inter-division road trip.

The game was filled with both timely offense and lackluster defense – with the Growlers scoring in every inning save for the third. The Woodchucks led twice early in the game but fell behind after a three-run fifth by Kalamazoo. The Growlers led by as many as five, but the Woodchucks trimmed the deficit down to one in the seventh. They would bring the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth, but ultimately fall short.

Ben Abernathy (UAB) made Woodchucks history as the first player to both pitch and DH in a Northwoods League game. The righty lasted just two innings in his start, but reached base three times, including a bunt base hit in the second that plated two runs on a throwing error.

Tim Conway (North Georgia) enjoyed one of his best performances of the summer. He drove in a go-ahead RBI single in the third inning – one of three hits in the game. His diving catch in center field also resulted in a key double play to help Caleb Rutledge (Stephen F. Austin) out of an early jam.

Mark Shallenberger (Evansville) cut into a 10-5 deficit with a two-run single in the top of the seventh, driving in Brent Widder (Evansville) and Hunter Dorraugh (San Jose State), who each reached base multiple times in the win. With the help of two Growler errors, the Chucks would score two more runs in the inning.

Widder totaled four hits on the day but committed his first two errors of the summer. The second error cost the Woodchucks an inning-ending double play in the seventh that would have kept the deficit at 11-9. The Growlers scored four runs in the inning to rebuild their five-run lead.

Dawson Lane (Florida Southern) made his Woodchucks debut, allowing one run in the eighth inning. He escaped a jam on a double play by Michael Brooks (UCF), who caught a line drive and sprinted to second base to beat the runner. Brooks drove in a run and scored twice in the loss.

The Chucks cap off their Eastern road swing with a 5:35 p.m. Central time first pitch Monday against The Growlers the in Kalamazoo. After a day off Tuesday, Wausau starts the second half of the season in Wisconsin Rapids on Wednesday before returning home for a five-game homestand.