Waterloo Bucks Fall in St. Cloud-1 Game Short of NWL Championship
As if he's saying "Oh well, whadd'ya do?", Bucky the Waterloo Bucks mascot (shown in the photo above) pretty much sums up the feeling of Bucks fans after last night's loss to the St. Cloud Rox in the Northwoods League's (NWL) Great Plains division championship game. It really stinks to come so close and lose, but on the other hand, it was a historic baseball season in many ways.
The Bucks' first NWL season championship since 2002 remains elusive. Of course, we can't forget that Waterloo finished the 2020 pandemic-shortened season with an NWL Minnesota-Iowa Region title, but that's not the same, since there were no playoff games.
This year, the team finished with a 44-26 overall record, finishing in 1st place in both the first and second half of the season, and earned their first postseason victories in 19 years in the subdivisional series. As they swept the Duluth Huskies in a best-of-three game series.
Great Plains East Championship game re-cap
As I sat there and watched the game on TV, the arm-chair coach in me thought, "Hey Coach, you're leaving the Bucks' starting pitcher in there way too long." Turns out, I was right, as Wartburg's Dylan Gotto gave up 10 hits and five runs in four innings of work. By the time Gotto left the game, the Rox built what seemed like an insurmountable lead of 5-1. It also didn't help that the Bucks left nine men stranded on the base pads.
According to the NWL website, Anthony Pron then came in and gave the Bucks three strong innings of relief to keep things close, allowing just one run on a hit and a walk while striking out two. The highlight of the game was in the 7th inning when catcher Tavan Shahidi blasted a home run over the left-field fence. But the Rox proved to be the better team (for this one game anyway), finishing with a 6-3 victory. St. Cloud now moves on to the NWL Championship game on Friday night at home vs. the winner of the Madison Mallards and Traverse City Pit Spitters game that is scheduled for tonight (Wed. 8/18).
Which Bucks players do we have a chance to see in "big leagues" someday?
The NWL and the Bucks have sent many players off to play Major League Baseball. If you got out to a game this summer at Riverfront Stadium, you may have seen future professional ballplayers like 2021 Bucks "Player of the Year" and NWL Post-season All-Star, Max Jung-Goldberg. Along with other post-season All-Star team members, Joshua Kasevich, and Garrett McGowan. Plus, add in pitchers like University of Iowa stud Duncan Davitt and closer Zach Button and you never know, you might be able to say "I saw them when".
In the meantime, the end of May of 2022 can't come soon enough to begin another entertaining and exciting Bucks baseballs season. Until then, I'll close by saying, "hey hey, whadd'ya say? LET'S GO BUCKS!