For the third straight night the La Crosse Loggers’ bats failed to wake up, but that won’t be what the 3,133 fans at Copeland Park will remember on Sunday.
Instead they will remember the game being marred by extracurricular activities in addition to the Loggers falling 7-1 to the Willmar Stingers.
After two innings, the Stingers announced they were playing the game under protest due to an alleged substance they believed Loggers starter Derik Beauprez had on his glove. After Beauprez finished pitching the second inning, Willmar asked the umpire to take a look at Beauprez’s glove. Home plate umpire Daniel Glidewell checked the glove and allowed Beauprez to continue, but Stingers manager Eric Vasquez claimed Beauprez switched gloves and gave a different one to the umpire. After the next half inning they announced they would be playing the game under protest.
“They thought our starting pitcher may have had pine tar on his glove so they wanted to check his glove,” Loggers manager Brian Lewis said. “The umpire checked the glove and there was nothing on the glove. Then the coach thought he had switched gloves, I don’t know it was all a big mess. I let the umpire check the glove and he said there wasn’t anything on the glove.”
However the fireworks didn’t stop there. In the fourth, Beauprez threw a fastball behind Willmar designated hitter Danny Rodriguez and then proceeded to walk towards Rodriguez. Some words were exchanged, the benches cleared, and both sides were issued a warning. Things got chippy again in the fifth when Willmar runner Harrison Schnurbusch lowered his shoulder and ran over Loggers’ shortstop Jake Hirabayashi while caught in a rundown between first and second.
“He (Beauprez) tried to throw a two-seamer inside and it got away from him,” Lewis said. “Rodriguez didn’t like it so he was barking at Derik and Derik barked back. When stuff happens like when they check a guy’s glove or they think something illegal is going on and then you go through the process you are supposed to go through and the umpire doesn’t find anything and you still push the issue, all you are doing is just stirring things up and that is what happened today.
“The umpire even said he wasn’t intentionally throwing at him and he could tell that it was a two-seamer that got away from him.”
But it would be the Stingers who got the last laugh off of Beauprez and the Loggers.
After single runs in the fourth and fifth, the Stingers chased Beauprez in the seventh after he allowed back-to-back baserunners to open up the frame. The Stingers scored three in the inning off of reliever Pat Kenny. Two of the runs were charged to Beauprez, who allowed four earned runs on five hits with six strikeouts in six-plus innings. The Stingers got two more in the eighth to put the game out of reach.
The only La Crosse run came in the sixth when Luke Rasmussen singled home Kennie Taylor, who doubled to lead off the inning. The Loggers were once again silenced by the Stingers’ pitching staff. Entering the night, Stingers had allowed just 22 runs in the past 10 games and were tied for third in the Northwoods League in ERA (3.75) while leading in hits allowed (388) and opponent’s batting average (.232). This time it was Tyler Oldenberg who shut the Loggers down. The southpaw had allowed just two runs in his last 17⅓ innings and went another solid six innings, allowing one run on five hits while striking out seven.
“He was just spotting up,” Lewis said. “He had a really good changeup going against our right-handed hitters today and was slipping his breaking ball in there. He’s a good pitcher.”
The Loggers have now lost 10 of their past 13 and start a gruesome road trip with a doubleheader tonight in Duluth starting at 5:05 p.m.