Woodchucks Rout Rafters in Game Two
WISCONSIN RAPIDS, Wis - Facing elimination, the Wausau Woodchucks found their most dominant and complete performance of the season in an 11-1 victory over the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters Monday night.
After last night's loss, the Woodchucks entered the day needing a win to force a deciding game in the best-of-three divisional series.
The offense sparked early, as a trio of base-hits by Jc Ng (Pomona-Pitzer), Chase Hug (Evansville) and Tyler Cox (Eckerd) loaded the bases with no outs. A wild pitch allowed Ng to score, and the Chucks grabbed a 1-0 lead but missed an opportunity for more.
In the bottom of the first, the Rafters answered. A Jacob Igawa (Hawaii) single tied the game, advancing runners to both corners with one out. But after Nick Marshall (West Texas A&M) induced an inning-ending double-play, the Woodchucks re-gained their momentum.
A two-run homer by Drew Stengren (Central Michigan) gave Wausau a 3-1 lead in the top of the second. Later in the inning, a double in the gap by Hug brought Maurice Gomez (Keiser) around the bases. With two outs, Elie Kligman (Wake Forest) drove in Hug with a single, pushing the Woodchucks lead to four runs.
Marshall struck out five Rafters over the next two innings, setting the tone for a dominant six and two-thirds innings of work on the mound. Marshall did not allow another hit until the fifth inning, striking out a career-high 12 batters in the win.
Rafters starter Ben Amon (College of New Jersey) was pulled after 70 pitches in two innings. He would end up taking the loss Monday night, but the Woodchucks' offense was not finished after his departure.
In the top of the fourth, Hug (Evansville) hit his tenth homer of the summer - a three-run moonshot over the right field video board that put the Woodchucks ahead 8-1.
Cox blasted his second homer of the summer, a three-run shot to right field, an inning later. With half of the game still remaining, the Woodchucks had hung 11 runs on the league's best pitching staff.
Marshall's gem was followed by scoreless relief outings from Aidan Corn (Pasco-Hernando) and Christian Orr (Columbia International), putting the Woodchucks in position to line up their remaining arms for tomorrow's series finale.
The playoff victory was the team's first since 2010, a series-opening win over eventual champs Eau Claire. Tomorrow at 6:35 p.m., the Woodchucks will try to win their first playoff series since 2003. They will attempt to do what no team has done since the introduction of the current sub-divisional playoff format - win a best-of-three series after losing game one at home.
The winner of tomorrow's matchup will advance to the Great Lakes Division Championship Game to host the Kalamazoo on Wednesday.
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