Woodchucks Lead the Way
Just one year after the pandemic forced the league into a shortened, 48-game pod system, the Northwoods League returned to its normal 72-game slate in 2021. But for the Wisconsin Woodchucks, this season was anything but normal.
The Wausau club set records and established the pace throughout the Great Lakes West division all year. Finishing with a final record of 44-28, the Chucks won more games in 2021 than in any prior season in their 28-year history, breaking a 43-win total from 2012 on the final night of the '21 campaign.
Wisconsin set records in the stat sheet as well. They drew 350 walks across the summer, breaking the mark of 319 from 2008. The Woodchuck bullpen also combined for 27 saves--tops in franchise history as well as a Northwoods League high in 2o21.
The Chucks finished the regular season with the best overall record in the six-team Great Lakes West Division. They earned that title by going over a month without losing consecutive games, from July 8 to August 12. The Woodchucks were dominant against rivals within 100 miles of Athletic Park, going a perfect 12-0 against the Green Bay Booyah in 2021 and 9-3 in matchups against the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters.
Other situational notes for the club include...
-Going 24-13 at Athletic Park.
-Finishing with a 29-9 record in second games (or later) of series.
-Having a 21-8 record in contests following a loss.
-Compiling a 37-2 record when taking a lead into the ninth inning.
-Coming from behind to win 18 times.
-Going 21-14 in the first half of the season and 23-14 in the second half.
-Finishing in the top half in the league in attendance with an average of 1,178 fans each game at Athletic Park. The fans who attended a game enjoyed many fun promotions! The Woodchucks celebrated with postgame fireworks eight times in 2021. We welcomed the ZOOperstars! and Tyler's Amazing Balancing Act. Woody's Reading Club redemption night, Sunday Dinner Trig's Family Four Pack and White Claw Wednesdays were held regularly. To the 40,040 fans who walked through the gates at Athletic Park, Thank you!!!
Monday, May 31: The Woodchucks opened 2021 with the third-longest game in Northwoods League history. Sitting through two lengthy weather delays, the Chucks escaped a two-run deficit to defeat the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters 4-3 in 10 innings on the road. Clayton Mehlbauer and Tyler MacGregor had the winning RBIs, and Ian Asken picked up a one-frame save.
Wednesday, June 2: Brandon Trammell hit a two-run walkoff home run in the bottom of the ninth to lead the Chucks to a 5-3 win over the Madison Mallards.
Monday, June 7: Wisconsin was down 2-0 and down to its final strike in the ninth at Wisconsin Rapids. But Kevin Kilpatrick roped a two-RBI single to left to clear the bases and was the go-ahead run an at-bat later. The Chucks held on in the bottom of the ninth to win 3-2.
Friday, June 25: The Woodchucks found themselves once again in a nail biter at the Rafters' Witter Field. And once again, Kilpatrick delivered. His RBI single was decisive in a 3-2, 10-inning victory. Relief pitcher Tom Kane earned the win, allowing no earned runs or hits while striking out six batters in three and one-thirds innings.
Tuesday, July 20: Outfielders Kilpatrick and Tyler Kehoe as well as pitcher Nate Madej represented the Woodchucks at the 2021 Northwoods All-Star Game in Mankato, Minn. on the Great Lakes Division team! Kilpatrick appeared in the league's Home Run Challenge a night earlier.
Monday, July 26: Three Woodchucks combined for six home runs in a 19-5 rout at Green Bay's Capital Credit Union Park. But it's Stephen Reid who stole the show with four home runs!
Thursday, July 29: Ben McCabe scored Jacob Schoenvogel on a sacrifice fly and the Woodchucks walked a game off for the second time in 2021 at Athletic Park, beating the Booyah 3-2. The run came in extra innings; the bottom of the eighth in a matchup slated for seven innings. The Woodchucks completed a doubleheader sweep hours later.
Thursday, August 5: The Chucks--playing Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Battle Creek Bombers in Wausau--trailed 8-2 midway through the fourth inning of a seven-inning game. They reeled off a run in the bottom of the fourth, another run in the fifth, and five runs in the sixth, with Chase Bessard's two-run double proving to be the game-winner. Wisconsin won 9-8 and swept the twin bill later in the evening.
Saturday, August 14: The Woodchucks concluded the season right where it began: at Wisconsin Rapids. The Chucks escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth to win 4-2, clinching the division title and setting the franchise record for wins in a season.
Reid batted a team-high .356 among qualifying stat earners, boasting a 1.084 OPS and eight home runs (all team-highs). He set a franchise record and tied a Northwoods League record with four homers at Green Bay on July 26.
Kilpatrick slashed .325/.404/.485 with a team-high 44 RBI. He was named a Northwoods League All-Star, Home Run Challenge participant and made the league's postseason All-Star roster.
Among qualified pitchers, Tyler Murrah led the Woodchucks in both earned run average (1.37) and WHIP (0.97). He went 2-0 with a save in nine appearances and one start.
Tyler Hoeft led the Chucks in wins with six in 10 appearances, all starts. The wins mark was good for second in the Northwoods League and first in the Great Lakes Division. The right-hander was named a Northwoods League postseason All-Star.
Kane, Colin Millar, Shane Telfer and Geo Camfield each had four saves, sharing the individual team-high and combining for 16 of the 27 saves on a pitching staff with the league-high in that category.
The Skipper Speaks
Corey Thompson took over the Woodchucks as manager in 2021. It was his first season as a Northwoods League skipper.
"Thank you to everyone who was a part of this incredible summer!" Thompson said on Twitter. " To the 60+ players that put on a Chucks uni, you guys handled yourselves with class and were a blast to coach. Our motto from day 1 was "SELFLESSNESS" and you all took that standard to heart with the way you played. Thank you to our fans, couldn't have done it without you. Best fans in the league! What an amazing experience I will never forget, THANK YOU WAUSAU!"
The 2022 season will arrive before we know it! Watch for the release of the 2022 schedule later this year and tickets for the 2022 season will go on sale next spring. Be sure to follow the Woodchucks on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to stay up to date on all your Woodchucks news during the off season!
For questions, please call us at 715.845.5055, stop by our front office, or visit woodchucks.com!
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Northwoods League Stories from August 16, 2021
- Mallards Sweep Dock Spiders to Advance to Divisional Championship - Madison Mallards
- Ronnie Sweeny Named All-NWL - La Crosse Loggers
- Woodchucks Lead the Way - Wisconsin Woodchucks
- Mallards Look to Clinch Series in Fond du Lac - Madison Mallards
- Huskies Drop Game One in the Playoffs - Duluth Huskies
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