The Waterloo Bucks entered the Northwoods League All-Star break on a positive note, beating Willmar 5-3 at Riverfront Stadium Sunday afternoon (July 18, 2016).

The victory gave the Bucks their second-straight series split and puts Waterloo 2.5 games ahead of the Stingers for fourth overall in the North Division race. With 25 games remaining in the regular season, the Bucks remain the mix for a playoff berth.

Waterloo used seven pitchers and got a pair of key hits from back-up catcher Zach Fricke in the victory. Fricke, a Waterloo native, replaced All-Star backstop Adam McGinnis in the fourth inning.

The Bucks (6-6, 28-19) took a 1-0 lead with a two-out run in the third inning. Zach Weatherford gave the Bucks their first hit of the game with a sharp single to left, then stole second. He scored on Lane Milligan’s RBI single to center.

Willmar (8-4, 26-22) responded with a pair runs in the fourth inning, as the Stingers went ahead 2-1.

Waterloo then answered with the game-tying run in the bottom of the fourth. Fricke entered the game and started the rally with a lead-off single. He moved into scoring position on Alex Boxwell's ground out, then scored from second when Tyler Curtis singled to left field.

The Bucks took the lead for good with two runs when they plated two runs in the sixth inning. Robert Neustrom doubled down the left field line and scored on Fricke's double off the left-center fence. Boxwell then connected for Waterloo's third-straight double, which plated Fricke.

The Stingers trimmed the Bucks’ lead to 4-3 in the seventh, before Waterloo added an insurance run in the eight. Jake Hand and Fricke drew back-to-back walks to start the frame, then Boxwell was hit with a pitch to load the bases. Curtis then walked with the bases loaded, allowing Hand to score from third.

Patrick Boyle (4-2) worked 1.1 innings of relief to earn his first win out of the bullpen. The southpaw yielded an unearned run on two hits and a walk while striking out one. Brandon Downey pitched the ninth inning to record his 10th save of the season.

UP NEXT: The Bucks are idle until Thursday when Northwoods League play resumes following the three-day All-Star break. Waterloo next has a two-game series against the Mankato MoonDogs on the road.

Story Contributor: Jared Schlensky - Waterloo Bucks​