Waterloo Bucks Defeat Duluth In Playoff Opener
Almost two decades have past since the Waterloo Bucks last celebrated a postseason victory. The drought ended Sunday afternoon.
Left fielder Jackson Lyon blasted a two-run home run and drove in five while leading the Bucks to an 8-6 win over Duluth in Game One of the Great Plains East Championship Series at Riverfront Stadium. The victory, Waterloo's first since the 2002 Northwoods League title game, gave the Bucks a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series.
Waterloo was playing as the visiting team on its home field. The Huskies weren't able to host the game due to a concert at Wade Stadium in Duluth, Minn.
Lyon slammed the home run deep over the left field wall moment after Emi Gonzalez led off the top of the fifth inning with a walk. Lyon's team-leading fifth homer of the season gave the Bucks a 3-2 lead.
Lyon's home run came on a 2-0 pitch Emi Gonzalez (1-for-2, 2 BB, HBP, R, RBI) led off the top of the fifth with a walk, then Lyon demolished a 2-0 pitch out to deep left field for his fifth homer of 2021.
A redshirt junior at California State University-Fullerton, Lyon finished the game 3-for-5 with one run scored and five RBI. The Northwoods League recognized him as player-of-the-night.
Waterloo broke the game open with three-run sixth inning. The Bucks loaded the bases when Sam Biller and Liam Critchett were hit by pitches, then Jalen Smith and Gonzalez drew walks. Lyon followed with a single down the left line, putting the Bucks ahead 6-3.
Smith scored three times for Waterloo, while Critchett and Tavan Shahidi each had an RBI.
On the mound, starting pitcher Michael Mitchell cruised through six innings of work to earn his second win of the season, allowing just two earned on six hits and a walk while striking out six Duluth batters. Zach Button earned the save after Duluth scored two in the eighth, then put two men on in scoring position with none retired in the ninth. Button entered into the jam and allowed a single before retiring the next three batters.
Waterloo goes for the series win against the Huskies in Game Two Monday at 6:35 pm at Riverfront Stadium.