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Applegate, big seventh inning, propel Bullfrogs to victory

BY RICH PALZEWIC
CORRESPONDENT


GREEN BAY – “It’s amazing what can happen with this team if we throw strikes.”

Those were the words of Green Bay Bullfrogs first-year manager Kirk Shrider after his team defeated the Lakeshore Chinooks 6-1 in a Northwoods League baseball game June 7 at Joannes Stadium.

Two nights after four Green Bay (4-6) pitchers walked 15 combined batters in a loss to Kenosha, starting pitcher Jason Applegate (Villanova) pitched six strong innings, allowing just an unearned run on three hits. Most importantly, he walked only one.

“I just had really good command of all my pitches,” said Applegate. “(Catcher) Austin (Bates) and I had a really good connection going and stuff was working.”

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound righty who hales from Columbus, New Jersey, used a good mix of his curveball and splitter to keep the Chinooks (5-5) off balance all night. Lakeshore didn’t get a hit until a one-out single in the fifth by Jake Thompson.

“My out pitch is usually my splitter,” added Applegate. “I had really good movement on it and it just felt good all night.”

Of Applegate’s 18 recorded outs, 16 were either via strikeout or ground ball, proving the splitter was very effective.

Although Applegate didn’t figure in the decision, his performance on the mound gave his team a shot of confidence.

“I had said a few games ago that we were going to put him in the starting rotation, and I know he’s thankful for that,” said Shrider, who noted that Applegate is popping the mitt in the mid-80s with his fastball. “He wants to go back to Villanova and be a starter, so it’s perfect. He had great command and really pounded the zone.”

Lakeshore’s Austin Jones (UW-Whitewater) matched Applegate pitch-for-pitch in the first six innings, but the Bullfrogs broke things open in the seventh.

After Leo Perez (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) led off the seventh with a double, Tate Soderstrom (Arizona) and Cooper Morrison (UC-Davis) had back-to-back walks to end Jones’ night.

After two consecutive strikeouts from Chinooks’ reliever Nick Campe, the newly acquired Bates (Chipola College) delivered with a two-strike, broken-bat looper over the shortstop’s head to plate two and put Green Bay up 2-1.

“Austin just got here (Wednesday night) after winning the junior college championship,” Shrider added. “He also caught a heck of a game behind the plate. I threw him right into the fire and he delivered.”

Bates picked a Lakeshore runner off first base in the eighth to end the inning.

After Bates’ two-run single in the seventh, Eddy Gonzalez (Incarnate Word), Rudy Aguilar (St. John’s) and Perez had consecutive run-scoring singles to make it 6-1. In all, the Bullfrogs sent 11 batters to the dish in their half of the inning.

Prior to their big seventh inning, the ‘Frogs had just two combined hits in their last 15 innings.

Green Bay had another golden opportunity to score in the fourth after they had runners on first and third with one out, but a hard shot off the bat of Soderstrom was snagged by Jones on the mound, who then caught Aguilar in a rundown off third for the second out.

Riley Mihalik (Rider) and Collin Luty (Northern Kentucky) had the other hits for Green Bay.

Brody Curtiss (Augustana) – who picked up the win – and Tyler Rosas (Dixie State) finished up the last three innings on the mound and surrendered just one hit, struck out three and walked two.

The Bullfrogs now hit the road for four straight before returning home next Tuesday, June 12 against Rockford.

Note: Former Milwaukee Brewers player Cecil Cooper, who was a five-time MLB all-star, threw out the first pitch before the game.

Box Score

Lakeshore: 000 001 000 – 1 4 1
Green Bay: 000 000 60x – 6 8 2 

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