WATERLOO — The Waterloo Bucks haven’t caught many breaks this Northwoods League season.
Thursday night at Riverfront Stadium, they got a big one with the game on the line and walked off with a thrilling, 5-4, 10-inning victory over Duluth.
With Luke Bowerbank at first base in the bottom of the 10th, Dawnoven Smith smashed a hard bouncer between first and second. The ball skipped past Duluth right fielder John Lagattuta, Bowerbank raced around the bases, and the Bucks celebrated.
“It’s amazing to finally catch a break like that,” said a smiling Bowerbank. “All season those kind of things seemed to work against us but not tonight. When Dawnoven got the hit I was just booking it to second to break up the double play.
“This team showed tonight that no matter what the score or our record (19-50), none of us are done playing. We are here to compete and we will fight to the last game.”
As for Smith, redemption came to him with his last at-bat.
“It was all thanks to our God above,” Smith said. “Without him none of this would be possible. Sometimes you have to play on luck or even an error, and tonight God helped us with the win.
“We are a group of college players that just want to compete every day and play hard. Sometimes you get good things to happen to you like we did tonight.”
The Bucks had to battle all night long as four early errors helped the Huskies (45-24) to three runs.
Duluth wasn’t perfect, either. Waterloo was down 4-2 when Parker Murdie reached on a single and scored on a throwing error to close the gap to 4-3.
The Bucks tied the game in the bottom of the eighth after loading the bases with no outs. Smith delivered a long fly ball to center field that plated Angelo Altavilla, who had reached with a single.
Waterloo left the bases loaded in that inning and weren’t able to cash in on a first and third situation with no outs in the ninth.
Justin Mulvaney came into the game and shut down Duluth in the 10th, and the Bucks rewarded him in the bottom half.
“I have said time and time again all year that this team is a group of fighters,” manager J.D. Eaton said. “We gave them a lot of opportunities to win the game, but we kept our heads up and ground it out. The guys truly put up a great effort.
“It seems like that bad stuff happened to us all season long right from the beginning,” added Eaton. “Tonight it finally went our way. If we could have had a few of those breaks during the season, things could very well be different.
“We beat a team that is a top team tonight and proved that we can play with anyone.”
Waterloo 5, Duluth 4, 10 inn.
Duluth 111 101 000 0 — 4 6 4
Waterloo 020 000 110 — 4 10 4
Hunter Bigge, Callan Johnson (5), Kieran Shaw (8), Sean Watkins (10) and Chris Gilbody. Ryan Froom, Jakob Kirman (3), Joshua Culliver (7), Justin Mulvaney (9) and Greg Anderberg. WP — Mulvaney (2-1). LP — Watkins (0-1). 2B — Sean Watkins (D), Christian Jones 2 (D), Chris Gilbody (D).
Records: Waterloo 9-25, 19-50. Duluth 21-12, 45-24.