Willmar’s Dramatic Win Ends Bucks’ Playoff Hopes
The Bucks kept their post-season hopes alive with a 5-3, nine-inning victory over Willmar in the opening game of a doubleheader. However, Waterloo (13-22, 35-35) was mathematically eliminated from making the playoffs when the Stingers rallied from a 6-1 deficit to win the nightcap, 7-6. Willmar (21-13, 39-31) capped the comeback with a two-run walk-off home run.
Read the game summaries below.
UP NEXT: The Bucks return home Saturday (Aug. 13) to begin their final regular-season series of the year. They host the St. Cloud Rox at 7:05 p.m. at Riverfront Stadium in Waterloo. Right-hander Brett Solano (6-5, 4.13) is slated to make his league-leading 14th start for the Bucks, while St. Cloud sends right-hander Austin Caspersen (3-1, 3.35) to the bump.
Tied 3-3 after seven innings, Waterloo scored a pair of two-out runs (both unearned) in the top of 9th to squeak by the Willmar Stingers, 5-3. With Alex Boxwell on second and Adam McGinnis on first, Lane Milligan hit a grounder to Luke Becker at second, however, Becker failed to make the play, allowing Boxwell to score from second for the go-ahead run. With runners on the corners, Jake Hand reached on an RBI fielder’s choice, scoring McGinnis from third for the final run of the game.
Waterloo took early lead, scoring a two runs in the second inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Kyle Crowl belted a two-run double to center fielder, plating both Milligan and Hand. The double by Crowl was his first extra-base hit of the season.
Willmar tied the game at 2-2 with a pair of runs in the fourth inning, then took a 3-2 lead in the fifth on Greg Lambert's solo home run down the left field line. The homer was Lambert’s team-leading seventh of the year and was the first of two he'd hit on the day.
The Bucks quickly tied the game at 3-3 with a two-out run in the top of the sixth. Milligan doubled down the left field line to start the inning before advancing to third on a sacrifice bunt by Hand. Two batters later, Robert Neustrom brought home Milligan with an RBI single to center.
Derek Hendrixson (5-1) earned the win with three scoreless inning in relief. The All-Star yielded a hit and two walks while striking out a pair.
With two outs and a 2-2 count in the bottom of the seventh, Lambert secured Willmar's postseason spot with a two-run, walk-off home run to left-center. The home run not only gave Willmar the win, but it also extended his league-leading RBI total to 63. Quincy McAfee doubled to left field just before Lambert belted his second home run of the doubleheader.
The Stingers jumped in front, 1-0, in the first inning, before Waterloo evened the score in the second. Tyler Curtis' single down the right field line scored Neustrom, tying the game at 1-all.
The Bucks built a big lead with a five-run fourth inning. After loading the bases with no one out, Curtis pulled a two-run single down the left field line, plating both Milligan and McGinnis. Brody Weiss followed with an RBI single to center before Justin Beck made it 5-1 with a sacrifice fly to center. Weiss then scored on Boxwell's RBI triple down into the right-field corner.
Willmar trimmed the Bucks' lead to 6-5 in the fifth inning. The four-run frame set the stage for Lambert's dramatic two-run, walk-off home run to end the game.
Trevor Patterson (0-1) was charged with the loss in game two, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out one over 1.2 innings.
Friday's doubleheader was played at Green Lake Baseball Diamond in Spicer, Minn., about 15 miles northeast of Willmer. The Stingers' home venue, Baker Field at Bill Taunton Stadium, was flooded Wednesday night when eight-inches of rain fell in south-central Minnesota. The deluge and resulting flood forced the postponement of Waterloo's scheduled game at Willmar on Thursday and caused the twinbill to be played at a different location on Friday.
Story Contributor: Jared Schlensky - Waterloo Bucks