Evening State Sports Briefs: Northwoods League finals begin tonightWisconsin Sports
-- The La Crosse Loggers had an extra day of rest, and they’ll get home field advantage as the Northwoods League championship series begins tonight.
MANKATO, Minn. - The La Crosse Loggers had an extra day of rest, and they’ll get home field advantage as the Northwoods League championship series begins tonight.
The Loggers swept Wisconsin two-games-to-none in the South Division finals – and they had last night off while the Mankato Moondogs won their deciding Game-Three over Willmar in the North Division finals. Mankato is in the title series for the second year in a row, after falling to Battle Creek, Mich. in 2011. La Crosse is in the title round for the only second time in its 10-year history. The Loggers fell two-games-to-one to Rochester in the 2009 league finals. The Summer Collegiate World Series is a three-game set that begins tonight in Mankato. Game-Two is tomorrow night in La Crosse. And the deciding Game-Three, should it be necessary, will be played Saturday night on La Crosse’s home diamond. La Crosse earned home field advantage by having the league’s best overall regular season record at 49-21.
In the Midwest League, the Beloit Snappers hope to take their second straight home game from the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers tonight. The Snappers scored five times in the eighth inning last night to out-slug the Rattlers 13-10. Also tonight, Clinton plays at Kane County. Burlington is at Peoria. Cedar Rapids entertains Quad Cities. Bowling Green is at Great Lakes. Dayton hosts Lake County. Fort Wayne plays at Lansing. And West Michigan is at South Bend. With just a couple weeks left in the regular season, Clinton still leads the Western Division by three games over Beloit and Burlington. Bowling Green still hangs onto a one-game edge over Fort Wayne.
Marco Estrada has gone 14 starts without getting a victory – but he hopes tonight will be the charm, when the Milwaukee Brewers host Philadelphia. Estrada is 0-5 with a 4.63 ERA. He replaced the injured Chris Narveson until he was out for a few weeks with his own injury earlier this season. Last time out, Estrada gave up four runs in four innings at Houston. But he escaped with a no-decision, as the Astros scored in the 10th inning to win that game. Estrada’s last win came last August 23rd against Pittsburgh. The Phillies will start left-hander Cliff Lee this evening, who’s had struggles of his own. He’s 2-7 with a three-point-eight-five ERA. Lee has been giving up a ton of home runs this season – 19 in just over 140 innings. It’s partially why the Phillies are languishing in fourth place in the National League East, after winning five straight division titles. The Brewers – the defending champs in the Central – are also in fourth, at a dozen games below .500.
After losing 14 of their last 15 road games, the Milwaukee Brewers will head to friendlier confines tonight when they open a four-game series against Philadelphia at Miller Park. The Brewers have won seven straight at home, where they’re coming off three-game sweeps of both Cincinnati and Houston. And after a slow start, Milwaukee has improved its home record to 33-26 this season – even though they’re just 19-38 on the road after getting swept for three games at Colorado this week. Tonight, the Brewers hope to tee off on Phillies’ left-hander Cliff Lee. He has given up 19 homers in 140-and-a-third innings this season. That’s one more than he allowed in almost 233 innings a year ago. Lee gave up a three-run blast in a loss to Saint Louis last Saturday, and threw four gopher balls to the Brewers on July 24th. But the Milwaukee bullpen imploded and lost the game that day. The Crew leads the Majors with 23 blown saves, including the Rockies’ walk-off 7-6 victory yesterday. Right-hander Marco Estrada starts for the Brewers this evening. Like Milwaukee, the Phillies are in fourth place in their division, with a pennant run all but out of the cards.
The newest school in the Midwest Conference is projected to win the league’s volleyball title this fall. Cornell of Iowa received eight first-place votes in a poll of the league’s coaches. Saint Norbert is projected to finish second, with three first-place votes. Monmouth is predicted to take third, followed by Lake Forest, Lawrence, and Carroll. Cornell is returning to the Midwest after 15 years in the Iowa Inter-Collegiate Athletic Conference. Saint Norbert won both the regular season and conference tournament volleyball crowns a year ago.
Monmouth and Illinois College are the coaches’ pre-season favorites to win the Midwest Conference football title. Monmouth – the champion from a year ago – received five first-place votes to four for Illinois College. And both received 93 total votes from the league’s coaches. Saint Norbert is projected to be the top Wisconsin finisher in third place, with Carroll fourth. Both those schools received one first-place vote each. Ripon is projected to take fifth, followed by Lake Forest, Grinnell, Beloit, Cornell, Lawrence, and Knox College. Cornell is rejoining the Midwest Conference this year, after playing in the Iowa Inter-Collegiate Athletic Conference since 1997.
UW-Stevens Point is projected to repeat as the WIAC volleyball champions this fall. That’s according to a pre-season poll from conference sports information directors. The Pointers were one of three teams sharing the regular season crown a year ago. Whitewater and Eau Claire were the others. It was Stevens Point’s first WIAC volleyball title since 1981. The Pointers won 18 straight matches a year ago, and made their first NCAA Division III tournament since 1985. Point returns all seven starters from that team, as they received all but one of the nine first place votes. Whitewater received the other vote, and is picked to take second followed by Eau Claire, Oshkosh, and Platteville.