BISMARCK, N.D. — The La Crosse Loggers made sure they are going to be in the hunt for a North Division title right down to the last weekend of the regular season.
La Crosse, by virtue of its 9-4 victory over the Larks Friday night, head into a season-ending two-game series at Mankato this weekend one game out of the division lead — and a coveted Northwoods League playoff spot.
Willmar, which beat Rochester 7-1 Friday night, leads the North Division with a 24-11 record, while Mankato is a half-game back at 23-11. La Crosse, at 23-12, is a full game behind Willmar, while Duluth is 22-12 and 1½ games back.
The Loggers erased a 1-0 deficit in a big way against Bismarck, as it erupted for five runs in the sixth inning. Bryce Blaum led off the sixth with a home run, while Austin Murr, who went 2-for-5, drove in Harrison Freed to give the Loggers the lead.
Grant Judkins added a RBI single to make it 3-1, and La Crosse uses two bases-loaded walks to make it 5-1.
The Loggers were not finished, however, as they added four more runs in the seventh, including RBI singles from Murr and Steve Mann.
Blaum finished the night 2-for-4 with two RBI, while Mann also drove in two runs.
Ted Stuka, a sophomore right-hander from UC-San Diego, allowed just one run — unearned — in 6⅓ inning to earn the win. He struck out five and didn’t walk a batter.