WISCONSIN RAPIDS, WI (WSAU)For the second time in as many nights, the Wisconsin Woodchucks lost a game on a walk-off wild pitch out of the arm of left-handed reliever Tim McElroy, as the team dropped the opener of a two-game home-and-home series with Wisconsin Rapids, 5-4, Thursday night at Witter Field.
McElroy entered the game with one out in the seventh inning and retired the first five batters he faced. After the Woodchucks (0-3) wasted a leadoff double from right fielder Kyle Toth in the top of the ninth inning, McElroy returned to the bump in the bottom half with the score still knotted at 4.
After striking out the first batter of the ninth, McElroy walked the next two batters, and following a wild pitch and stolen base, he was forced to intentionally walk the next hitter. With the bases loaded and one away, McElroy struck out Rafters’ first baseman Rocky DeSantis and was ahead in the count on centerfielder Bobby Gregorich 0-1 when his fastball skidded under the glove of catcher Jack Klages, allowing Rafter right fielder Michael Jurgella to scamper home from third with the winning run.
It was a back in forth game throughout. The Woodchucks got on the board first when Toth singled in the first, advanced to second on a throwing error, third on a groundout and scored on a wild pitch.
Wisconsin Rapids answered in the second inning when catcher Chandler Tracy led off with a solo homerun to right center, igniting a two-run mini-rally and giving the Rafters a 2-1 advantage.
The Woodchucks immediately responded in the third, tying the game on an RBI single from first baseman Brendon Hayden and taking a 3-2 lead on an RBI single from third baseman C.J. Chatham.
The 3-2 lead held for the Woodchucks until the bottom of the sixth inning, when Chucks’ reliever Matt Lambert surrendered two RBI-singles to the Rafters, who then led 4-3.
Once more, the Woodchucks wasted no time in responding. Toth led off the seventh and doubled down the left field line. The bases were loaded after a walk to second baseman Paul DeJong and a single from Hayden. Chatham then grounded into a five-three double play, scoring the tying runner in Toth but squashing the rally. The game remained 4-4 until the ninth.
McElroy was given the loss, falling to 0-2 on the season. The win went to the Rafters’ Isaac Behme, who tossed three innings in relief for Wisconsin Rapids.
Toth led the Woodchucks offensively with three hits, while Hayden was the only other ‘Chuck with a multi-hit effort, as he tallied two. Wisconsin’s defense sparkled in the field, but eleven walks issued from the pitching staff didn’t aid the Woodchucks’ cause.
The Woodchucks are back in action on Friday night in the finale of their home-and-home series with Wisconsin Rapids. First pitch of the inaugural game at brand new Athletic Park in Wausau is scheduled for 7:05 P.M. You can hear the game on Foxsports Radio AM1390 & FM 93.9.
Rest of NWL Scores
Madison 7 LaCrosse 5
Kalamazoo 5 Battle Creek 1
Green bay 4 Kenosha 2
St. Cloud 5 Willmar 4
Thunder Bay 7 Duluth 5
Lakeshore 4 Mankato 2
Rochester 3 Eau Claire 1
Waterloo 12 Alexandria 1