Bucks Gain Edge In Tie-Breaker Scenario With Win
One day after being swept in a doubleheader at Rochester, the Waterloo Bucks bounced back to win a crucial home game over the Honkers in the battle to capture the Northwoods League's North Division half-season championship.
The Bucks rallied past Rochester, 6-4, at Riverfront Stadium Friday night (June 30, 2017). The win could end up being critical for Waterloo (21-11), if the Bucks and St. Cloud (21-11) -- the current division co-leaders -- are still tied at the top of the standings when the first half-season ends on Tuesday.
According to the NWL's tie-breaker rules, head-to-head winning percentage is the first criteria used to determine the champion if both teams have an identical winning percentage. Since the Bucks and Rox split their four first-half games and don't meet again until July 7, the second tie-breaker rule would be used. Under that scenario, the champion will be determined based on "the winning percentage versus the next highest-placed team in the division and so on throughout division."
If Rule No. 2 comes into play, head-to-head games against Rochester would be the main factor in deciding the playoff qualifier should the Honkers remain in third-place. Friday night's win improved Waterloo's record against Rochester to 2-2 this season, while St. Cloud is just 1-3. Neither team plays the Honkers again until the second half.
Rain briefly interrupted Friday night's game in the top of the ninth inning. Following a 17-minute delay, Bucks relief pitcher Zachary McLeod slammed the door on a potential Rochester (16-15) rally. With one out and a runner on base, McLeod ended the threat with a pair of strikeouts after play resumed.
Zach Zubia started things off with a bang for the Honkers with a two-run home run to left field in the top of the first, giving Rochester an early lead.
Waterloo responded with a four-run second inning. Ian Nelson's two-run single down the first base line tied the game, a bases-loaded walk put the Bucks ahead 3-2, then Tyler Stover punched a run-scoring single to the outfield wall. Waterloo's advantage increased to 5-2 in the third inning on John Cable's RBI double to center field.
Lead-off solo home runs by the Honkers' Jordan Hart in the sixth inning and Zubia in the seventh cut the Bucks' deficit to 5-4, but Waterloo added an insurance run in the eighth when Dalton Hurd stole home while Keaton Presley was being thrown out on a stolen base attempt at second.
UP NEXT: The Bucks continue their three-game home stand at 6:35 p.m. Saturday (July 1), when they start a two-game series against the Eau Claire Express at Riverfront Stadium.
Story Contributor: Danny Frey - Waterloo Bucks